Laurent-Perrier and Chateau Malakoff, the Champagne houses, are to merge following a deal that will be completed early next year, the companies have said.

In a statement and the companies the deal would boost Laurent-Perrier's position at home and on the export market while strengthening its roots in the Champagne region of north-eastern France.

The deal is still subject to certain unspecified conditions. However if these are met then the merger should be completed by the beginning of 2004.

Laurent-Perrier is the only pure champagne player listed on the Paris bourse and has annual turnover of €160m. Chateau Malakoff, which owns the Jeanmarie, Beaumet and Oudinot brands, has sales of €45m.