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FRANCE: Belvedere shares spike ahead of hearing

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Belvedere's share price has rocketed in the past week, reflecting investors' renewed confidence in the Sobieski vodka maker's financial future on the eve of a crucial court hearing.

The troubled French drinks group has seen its share price rise by almost 14% today (5 January), ahead of a commercial court hearing on its financial status. Belvedere's share price is up by 41% since the start of 2012 and has doubled over the last month. 

At the court hearing, scheduled to take place in the French city of Nimes today, Belvedere could yet see its assets liquidated. However, investors seem confident that the group can avoid this by demonstrating its willingness and ability to reach a debt repayment deal with its creditors.

Last month, a spokesperson for the company told just-drinks: "We remain confident that with a new executive team in place, backed by new management consultants, Belvedere can demonstrate to the court its real economic value in terms of its brands and the jobs it generates." 

In October last year, Belvedere lost its CEO, Jacques Rouvroy, who was replaced by business partner and group MD Krzysztof Trylinski. The new CEO has indicated his desire to sell non-core assets quickly in order to reassure creditors over the firm's desire to pay off debt.

Last month, Belvedere reported net losses of EUR30.5m (US$41.8m) for the first half of 2011, albeit a 38% improvement compared with losses in the same period of 2010. 

There has been better news at the top-line. The group's Sobieski vodka brand has reached 1m case sales in the US, import agency Imperial Brands said this week. Sobieski, which retails for around US$10.99, has increased sales rapidly in the US since its launch in the country in 2007.


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