Blog: Chris MercerRémy Cointreau keeps us guessing on Champagne deal

Chris Mercer | 21 April 2011

According to reports in France, ex-Veuve Clicquot MD Cecile Bonnefond is being lined up as the new head of Piper-Heidsieck under the brand's new owners-to-be.

The local l'Union newspaper has reported that Bonnefond, who left Veuve-Clicquot in 2009, has been head-hunted by the likely buyer of Rémy Cointreau's Champagne brands, Societe Europeenne de Participations Industrielles (EPI).

Intriguingly, at the beginning of this year, Bonnefond left her post as a director at LVMH. L'Union claims that she left to join EPI, which is controlled by the Descours Family and has also made its name predominantly in fashion.

Aside from Bonnefond leaving LVMH, none of these details can be confirmed. Added to which, we still cannot be sure as to the state of the negotiations between EPI and Rémy Cointreau over the sale of the latter's Champagne arm.

Rémy Cointreau has not returned just-drinks' calls today (21 April) and the group offered no update on the talks in its full-year sales statement

There is some speculation that a deal for the unit, which includes Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck, may already have been inked, even if not announced. Last month, reported that the deal had been agreed, although it cited no sources.

Then, today, Rémy Cointreau reported that its debt/EBIDTA ratio has improved due to a "highly favourable change in financial debt at the end of March". Could this be a referral to the debt-laden Champagne arm?

For now, it's all smoke and mirrors.




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