• Court orders firm to pay back EUR375m
  • May force more asset sales
  • Group to appeal in Supreme Court
Belvédère may be forced to sell more assets

Belvédère may be forced to sell more assets

Belvédère has suffered a potentially serious setback to its financial recovery plan after a court confirmed that the French drinks group must pay back debt more quickly than previously expected.

A Court of Appeal in Dijon said yesterday (21 September) that EUR375m (US$496.7m) of debt must be paid back within ten years, as part of a recovery plan to help Belvédère to emerge from bankruptcy protection.

This is a serious setback for Belvédère, which was hoping that it would not have to pay the EUR375m so quickly. Total company debt is thought to be around EUR550m.

No one was available to comment at the Sobieski vodka maker, but the company has said it will appeal the Dijon ruling at France’s Supreme Court. However, the first tranche of the EUR375m is due for repayment in November 2010.

An industry source told just-drinks that Belvédère could be obliged to sell more assets now that it is faced with a tighter schedule on the repayment of its debts.

Belvédère remains in negotiations to sell its Marie Brizard subsidiary. Earlier this month, the firm signed an agreement for US-based Global Emerging Markets Group to invest up to EUR70m in the company over the next three years.