LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton has distanced itself from the bidding for Lanson International, just-drinks understands.

The French drinks powerhouse was yesterday (23 November) named in press speculation as one of six potential bidders for Lanson, the world's second-largest Champagne producer by volume.

LVMH declined to comment on reports that it had joined forces with Champagne producer Alain Thienot. However, just-drinks understands that LVMH, which has sold the Canard-Duchene and Pommery Champagne brands in recent years, is interested only in acquiring vineyards to support its stable including Moet & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. Lanson does not own any vineyards.

Champagne group Boizel Chanoine Champagne, private equity fund Butler Capital Partners and a consortium made up of French bank Credit Agricole and the Rothschild and Gardinier families have also bid for Lanson, according to the Wall Street Journal. French entrepreneur Jean-Claude Darmon and private equity fund Bridgepoint are also reported to have tabled offers.

Lanson officials had no information on the bidding. "There is no information flowing within the orgnaisation," Olivier de la Giraudiere, Lanson's export director for Europe and Africa told just-drinks. "The information we have today is from the outside - we are relying on the papers."

Lanson, 44% of which belongs to Caisse d'Epargne, the French state-owned bank, is heavily in debt. The Mora family, descendants of Lanson's founder, own the remaining 56%.

Last year, Lanson was unable to pay grape growers for part of the previous year's harvest, prompting the entry of Caisse d'Epargne, which took a stake in last July as Lanson was on the brink of bankruptcy.