Belvédère has been suspended from trading on the French stock exchange, at its own request, as of Friday (20 June), until after a shareholder meeting to be held this coming Friday.

The move came after the company's share value plunged by 30% last Friday, due to its credit rating being downgraded from B to B- by ratings agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) earlier in the week.

The downgrade, S&P said, was the result of Belvedere's shaky financial position resulting from its "debt-financed expansion strategy" and a "stronger-than-anticipated default potential".

At the root of the problem is understood to be a breach by Belvedere of its own rules on buying up its shares, which could force it to pay back bonds of up to EUR375m(US$581.1m) come September.

S&P add however that "partially mitigating factors" included Belvedere's diversified product mix, geographic reach and ownership of brands with leading market share including Sobieski, Danzka and William Peel.

No-one from Belvédère was available for comment when contacted by just-drinks today (23 June).