The president of French wine group, Jeanjean, Bernard Jeanjean, could relinquish part of his family's controlling stake in the firm.

The move is part of a strategy to make Jeanjean a key player in the ongoing consolidation of the French wine sector.

The news came on the day Jeanjean announced its 2006 financial results. Operating profit rose by over 16% to EUR5.4m (US$7.2m). Sales were up by 4.5% to EUR150.6m.

The Languedoc-based group has been 82%-owned by the Jeanjean family since it first listed on the Paris stock exchange 13 years ago.  Jeanjean's stake also extends by a further 3% through self-controlled shares with the remaining 15% floated on the market.

"For the first time, the Jeanjean family is open to the idea of reducing its stake in the company which marks a significant milestone in the company's history - even though the precise terms and conditions of such a move still have to be decided upon," a company spokesman told just-drinks.

Following its takeover of Bordeaux's Antoine Moueix et Lebègue, Jeanjean is looking to pursue external growth with further acquisitions in southern France.