Oeneo, the world's second-biggest cork maker, sold its Bloomfield, Iowa, oak stave mill for €900,000 (US$1.19m) in cash. The unit lost €700,000 in 2004; the French company will use proceeds to reduce debt and focus on other brands.

"The sale immediately enabled us to invest €385,000 in the Seguin Moreau French oak stave mill in Velines - an investment that will reinforce the quality and performance of our processes while significantly reducing production costs as of 2005," said Philippe Rapacz, manager of Oeneo's barrels division.