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Champagne negociant facing break-up

Champagne negociant business Pressoirs de France is almost certain to be broken up and its assets sold off after the company's administrator failed to sell it.

‘Optimistic’: Myriam and Nicolas Dubois (pic: lunion.presse.fr)

Administrator Jean-Luc Mercier, appointed by the French courts in January after the business went into receivership, has now launched a tender calling for bids for the two main assets of the company, based in Faverolles-et-Coemy, near Reims.

Mercier has listed these assets as the vineyards it owns – some 10.67 hectares of vines worth an estimated €11-15m – plus 165ha of supply contracts, including 84ha where the contract has a further four years to run.

Vineyard land in Champagne regularly fetches more than €1m per hectare, but there is some debate about the value of the supply contracts.

Growers are paid for their grapes in four tranches, but Mercier had warned that the second payment for the 2012 crop – some €2.5m, due on 5 March – would not be met by the deadline.

In the wake of past scandals, contracts are now more carefully drafted and may be nullified if payment is not made on time, making them worthless to any potential buyer.

Despite these developments, Pressoirs de France owner Nicolas Dubois still says he is optimistic about rescuing the business, which may further deter buyers interested in the supply contracts.

The vineyards are likely to attract interest from major groups in Champagne, such as LVMH, which has been actively buying up land under vine in recent times.

Written by Giles Fallowfield

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