FRANCE: Belvédère AGM postponed for CL deal

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The French spirits producer Belvédère said in a statement today that it would be postponing its joint shareholders' from 29 June to 1 August.

The statement said that the move was due to the orders of the presiding judge of the commercial court of Beaune.

The ruling by the judge stems from an agreement between CL Financial and Belvédère whereby the Caribbean conglomerate offered to relinquish its controlling stake in French wine and spirits group Belvédère to the company's founders and managers.

The offer was made to Jacques Rouvroy and Christophe Trylinski in a sale option agreement for EUR345m (US$460.3m).

In this connection, the two companies filed a joint petition with the presiding judge of the Commercial Court ("Président du tribunal de commerce") of Beaune to seek the AGM postponement.

Under the terms of the agreement, Belvédère's founders, who currently hold 22.13% of its capital, need to provide guarantees of payment by 31 July with the transfer of CL Financial's shares taking place by 30 September. Should this fail, then the company's board would be recomposed, giving CL Financial a majority of seats.

"CL Financial has a 68% share in Belvédère's capital but does not have a majority say on its board while the operational reins are in the hands of the founders," one market analyst told just-drinks. "CL Financial had agreed to reduce its shareholding to 55% but this has not happened.

"All this has led to a conflict over Belvédère's strategy and development. The agreement is a way of resolving it."

Belvédère's founders would also have the opportunity of exercising an option of selling their shares in the company from the end of this year for a three-month period.

Sectors: Spirits, Wine

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