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The Latest Wine Investment Scheme: Fine-Wine Bonds

Naked's founder Rowan Gormley launches a new, unregulated crowd-funding effort
© Naked Wines/Christopher Cox | Naked's founder Rowan Gormley launches a new, unregulated crowd-funding effort
Attractive returns from "wine bonds," but there's no financial protection for investors.

British-owned Naked Wines is looking to raise 3 million pounds ($4.66m) to fund winemakers by issuing bonds to customers.

The funds, say the company, will be invested in independent winemakers over a minimum of three years, enabling them to finance the production of "fine wines" – defined as those that "need more than one year from vine to table.”

In a statement, Rowan Gormley, Naked Wines’ founder and chief executive, said: “Ultimately, fine wines require more time to mature, meaning we also need a longer-term source of funding in order to give the winemakers the financial assistance they need.

"Doing it this way means the winemakers can focus on what we want them to do – make great wines – rather than spend their time and money selling."

Individuals can invest between 500 and 10,000 pounds ($700–$15,546), and Naked is offering annual gross interest of 7 percent in cash or 10 percent in credits to purchase wine.

Unlike wine investment funds, where people invest a lump sum in the hope that it goes up in value, the fine-wine bond is a loan to the company, which is repaid with interest, explains Naked in its 38-page Bond Invitation Document.

The bond has a maturity of three years, at which point bondholders can elect to have the original investment repaid in cash, or to receive their lump sum plus an additional 10 percent credited to a Naked Wines U.K. account to be spent on wine.

Naked is careful to spell out the risks involved in buying the fine-wine bonds. In its Invitation Document, the company admits there is "no certainty or guarantee" that it will be able to repay the bonds. And it says that in the case of insolvency, there is a risk that some or all of the bonds' nominal value will not be redeemed, and that some or all of the return due will not be paid.

The scheme is not regulated by the U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority – a quasi-governmental organization overseeing the financial services industry in Britain. 

Naked must raise at least one million pounds by midnight on 29 September for the scheme to go ahead.

Related stories: 

Naked Wines Announces New Hire From Treasury

Q&A: Rowan Gormley, Naked Wines

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  • Comments

    The Cellarbrator wrote:
    03-Sep-2013 at 00:36:42 (GMT)

    Considering the spreads between wholesale, discount retail, and list prices, the credit to purchase wine for an extra 3% looks like a terrible option. The credit option would need to be at least 15-20% and probably closer to 30% to be anywhere near parity.

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