French investment fund Butler Capital is the front-runner to buy Lanson International but still faces competition from a rival bidder, just-drinks understands.

Butler Capital remains the favourite to buy Lanson - the world's second-largest Champagne producer -  although it is understood that French entrepreneur Jean-Claude Darmon is still in the hunt, despite press reports suggesting the businessman was out of the race.

Lanson shareholders, the Mora family and French bank Caisse d'Epargne, are understood to have rejected an offer from a third bidder, Boizel Chanoine Champagne, a source close to the situation told just-drinks today (7 December).

Negotiations between the Lanson shareholders and the company's two remaining suitors are said to be ongoing with a final decision expected by the end of the year.

Lanson refused to comment when contacted by just-drinks today.