Belvédère Group has experienced a troubled time in recent years

Belvédère Group has experienced a troubled time in recent years

Five years ago this week, French wine and spirits group Belvédère was embroiled in legal proceedings with creditors over the amount of debt it owed. Since then, the firm - which has Bruce Willis as a minority shareholder - has endured a roller coaster of fortunes in its bid to stay afloat.

In March the following year, Belvédère looked to have started down the road of selling off its assets when reports surfaced that Thailand's ThaiBev was interested in acquiring its Marie Brizard unit, while its full-year net losses came in at EUR177.6m (US$234m)

Better news came four months later, when Belvédère reported that it had secured EUR70m (US$89m) from an investment group for a 20% stake in the firm. However, more bad news followed when France's Court of Appeal said the company had to pay back its debt earlier than expected.

By November, the firm had agreed to sell its US assets to an anonymous buyer for US$48m. But, by the end of the year, the group had put the sale of its Marie Brizard business on hold.

At the start of 2011, its full-year sales were also looking prettier. However, the group's position was again looking precarious later in the year, as it lost an appeal against a court ruling sweeping away its protection from creditors.

The following month, Belvédère received good news after getting a legal decision restored its creditor protection.  

But, by September reports emerged from France that Belvédère had been placed in administration by Nimes' commercial court. CEO Jacques Rouvroy then stepped down, to be replaced by MD Krzysztof Trylinski. 

Despite its woes, the company reported a 6% rise in full-year sales in early-2012. At the same time, rumours swirled that flagship brand Sobieksi vodka was among its brands that were up for sale to help pay down debt

By July, Dijon's commercial court had placed seven of Belvédère's subsidiaries under administration.

Some welcome news came in March last year, when Belvédère's debt restructuring plan was given court approval and it lined up the sale of its Danzka vodka brand. However, in April the group reported full-year losses of  EUR117.8m (US$153.8m) as sales also slipped. That same month, German group Behn was lined up to acquire Danzka for EUR19.4m (US$29.6m).

By the Autumn, US private equity group Oaktree Capital Management had sold its 38% stake in Belvedere, while founder, chairman & CEO Krzysztof Trylinski announced his intention to resign

In February, the group reported a 4% dip in full-year sales. Former Remy Cointreau exec Jean-Noël Reynaud took up the role of CEO in May, while Krzysztof Trylinski stepped down as chairman.

But, Belvédère may yet have a knight in shining armour. Morocco's Diana Holding, already a 13% shareholder, is looking to become the group's main shareholder, it was reported in October. And, just last week, the French firm said it was looking to offload its production assets in Poland and streamline its portfolio to arrest declining sales. 

It appears the roller coaster still has a way to run for Belvédère.