Suitors circle as Taittinger contemplates sale

Taittinger champagne News Wine News
  • Wednesday 29 June 2005

Taittinger, the family-owned luxury Champagne house, looks set to change hands as part of a huge sell-out of the family’s luxury holdings.

The Taittinger family, whixch owns controlling stakes in the Champagne house as well as a wide variety of luxury brands, is considering its options having called in investment bankers NM Rothschild and BNP Paribas to advise on potential takeovers.

The family’s assets, which include nearly 300 businesses, are said to be worth around €2bn (£1.3bn/US$2.4bn). The majority of its holdings are controlled through a holding company, the Société du Louvre, in which the 38 family members own a controlling stake.

The brands potential buyers are eyeing include the luxury hotels Crillon and Lutecia in Paris, Martinez on the Croisette in Cannes and the Hôtel Mamounia in Marrakesh. The Société du Louvre’s portfolio also lists top perfume-maker Annick Goutal, and Baccarat crystal.

Potential suitors include investment firms Lion Capital, Carlyle Group, PAI Partners and Eurazeo.

Insiders are giving conflicting reports as to whether the Taittinger family will want to hold on to their Champagne house, valued at around €500m (£333m/US$603m).

The family called in the takeover advisors after Albert Frère, a Belgian financier and owner of 13.5% of the Société du Louvre, declared his intention to sell his share and his 25% stake in Taittinger champagne – not part of the Société.

Some of the family are reported to want to sell their shares for tax reasons following a long internecine battle between those directly involved in running the businesses, and those who are less active but who want to cash in on the booming company.

Frère was called in to help fend-off a hostile takeover bid by the American firm Asher Edelman in 2000.

Due to a previous agreement, however, the sale of Frère’s shares cannot take place until June 2006.

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