Castel Freres, the Bordeaux-based wine group has placed a bid for Oddbins, Seagram's UK off-licence chain. According to local sources the bid is worth FF450m (US$58.8m).

The French company is one of four contenders, sources told, including Nomura, a management buyout and a group of "private individuals".

Pierre Castel head of Castel Freres told that the company was very interested in Oddbins and the outcome of the sale should be known by the end of the month.

He said that Castel Freres' Nicolas wine shop business had very good synergies with Oddbins and he was particularly interested in developing the Nicolas wine bar concept alongside the off-licence chain.

When question how hopeful he was in succeeding with the offer, Castel would only say he was "optimistic". But local sources said the bid should be taken "very seriously".

Frank Crouzet, Castel Freres' development and communications director, dispelled any fears that the Oddbins business would just be assimilated into Nicolas. He said: "Wherever Castel develop there is always respect for local authenticity. We make use of synergies but respect what exists."

The Castel Freres business currently includes 800ha of vineyards in Bordeaux along with 12 chateaux, 1200ha in Morocco and 120ha in Provence. The Nicolas business includes 450 shops in 21 countries including over 100 overseas sites, in locations such as Tokyo and New York. Thirty shops are based in London.

Oddbins is part of the Seagram spirits and wine business that is being sold to a joint Pernod Ricard and Diageo venture. However, Pernod, who is due to takeover the off-licence chain, made it clear early on that it had no interest in retailing and put the business up for sale.

At present Oddbins remains with Seagram as the Pernod/Diageo sale still awaits regulatory approval.

Seagram refused to comment on the disposal.