Reports in the French press claim William Pitters, is poised to sell three of its wine brands to fellow Bordeaux-based group, Castel Freres, which owns retail chain, Nicolas.

The three brands in question are Malesan, Jean Beauvillon et Sidi Brahim.

A letter of intent is said to have been signed earlier this month but both companies have declined to comment on the transaction. However, William Pitters chairman, Bernard Magrez, informed the company's works committee of the sell-off last week explaining that very poor margins offered by brand wines and the considerable cash- flow required to finance stocks were the reasons behind the move.

The deal would allow Castel to consolidate its position on the French market with its Baron de Lestac brand currently vying with Malesan as the leading Bordeaux. As for the acquisition of Jean Beauvillon, this would strengthen Castel's presence in the Languedoc region while that of Sidi Brahim would add to its range of North African wines.