Luxury goods giant Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy has bought a 50% stake in St-Emilion’s Château Cheval Blanc from its billionaire chairman and controlling shareholder, Bernard Arnault.
The deal also includes a 50% stake in Arnault’s company La Tour du Pin, which owns another St-Emilion domaine, Château Quinault L’Enclos. Financial details were not disclosed.
News of the transaction sent the share price of LVMH up more than 10% in early trading on Friday, with analysts speculating that it could signal an impending simplification of the French company’s complicated corporate structure.
It also led to a resurfacing of speculation over the future of UK drinks multinational Diageo’s 34% stake in LVMH. The French company denied reports in April that it might sell its Moët Hennessy drinks arm to the London-based company.
LVMH said the addition of the Premier Grand Cru Classé Cheval Blanc and the Grand Cru Classé Quinault would ‘complement the LVMH portfolio of super-premium wines’.
The company already dominates the Champagne market and owns a range of still wines, including Château d’Yquem, Cloudy Bay, Cape Mentelle and Terrazas.
Arnault, reputedly France’s richest man, bought Cheval-Blanc with Belgian businessman Albert Frère in 1998 for a reported €155m. The pair acquired Quinault last year for a rumoured sum of up to €10m.
Written by Richard Woodard