Remy Cointreau courts interest from LVMH and several Champagne houses - report

Remy Cointreau courts interest from LVMH and several Champagne houses - report

Moet Hennessy owner LVMH has had a bid for Remy Cointreau's Champagne business turned down but is still leading a group of Champagne houses in pursuit of the division, according to local reports.

Remy Cointreau rejected a EUR300m (US$407m) bid for its Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck Champagne business before Christmas, according to a report in French business daily, La Tribune, today (24 January). It cited an industry source as saying that LVMH plans to return with a higher offer, while Nicolas Feuillatte, Alliance Champagne and Lanson BCC are also reportedly in the running.

Remy, the paper said, has set its starting price at EUR400m. If true, the price tag is at the higher end of analysts' estimates for the value of the Champagne arm.

Remy declined to comment on the matter when contacted by just-drinks, while a spokesperson for LVMH could not be reached. A spokesperson for Remy told just-drinks last week, however, that it has received interest from several parties.

The French wine and spirits group wishes to offload the Champagne business in order to focus more resources on demand for Remy Martin Cognac in Asia. The group's Champagne sales rose by 11% in its third quarter, the final three months of calendar 2010, but the division has struggled to make a profit. It reported losses of EUR2.8m for the six months to the end of September 2010, versus losses of EUR3.5m a year earlier.

French bank Credit Agricole is overseeing an auction of the business. "Our conversations with management suggest the process is progressing well," said analyst group Evolution Securities, adding that it values the assets at EUR300m to EUR400m.