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Dairy farmers buy Saracen winery
'Dairy farmers' buy Saracen winery

Luke Saraceni's award-winning Saracen Estates winery buildings and the 40ha of land near Margaret River it stands on has been sold to former dairy farmers for $5.8 million.

However, the controversial property developer will retain an interest in the site, as a Saraceni family-linked company retains the lease to run the restaurant, cellar door and Duckstein Brewery joint venture on the property until at least 2018.

Mr Saraceni also owns the Saracen Estates brand.

Receivers Ferrier Hodgson appointed agents in July to sell the Caves Road property, which Mr Saraceni is thought to have spent at least $10 million developing. The receivers declined to comment yesterday.

However, Pebble Beach Holdings, a company associated with former Waroona dairy farmer Tony Monaco and his family, was confirmed as the buyer by a source close to the family. "Nothing will change at Saracen, it's business as usual," the source said.

Little is known about the Monacos, although they are thought to have exited the dairy industry as part of Alcoa's buyout of properties for its Wagerup expansion.

It is believed they also hold extensive real estate and business interests in WA and the Eastern States.

Ferrier Hodgson managing partner Martin Jones and his team were appointed receivers and managers of the Saracen Estates property in January last year at the behest of Mr Saraceni's aggrieved financier, Bankwest.

The bank bankrolled Mr Saraceni's empire and the building of its new $500 million Raine Square headquarters last decade.

However, the relationship soured after the global financial crisis, during which Commonwealth Bank bought the WA bank from its stricken British parent HBOS.

Mr Saraceni has been backed by litigation funder IMF (Australia) in a legal campaign against the appointment of KordaMentha as receivers of Raine Square, in the preparation of a damages claim.

Earlier this month Mr Saraceni told _WestBusiness _ he would lodge the Supreme Court damages writ by the middle of this month.

The writ would allege that Bankwest had been wrong to put Westgem, which he owns with business partner Hossean Pourzand, into default.

Mr Saraceni had a small win this month, overturning a bid by KordaMentha to appoint a special purpose administrator to Westgem.