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French court places 1855.com in liquidation

Troubled French online wine merchant Heracles, formerly 1855.com, has been forced into liquidation after a major investor withdrew support for its recovery plan.

The Tribunal de Commerce in Paris put Heracles into liquidation on 9 January, less than two months after it released the group from administration.

Heracles, which included 1855, ChateauOnline (renamed Ares) and Cave Privee businesses, owed millions of euros to creditors and buyers who never received wines purchased en primeur.

In late November 2014, the Paris court accepted a recovery plan put forward by Emeric Sauty de Chalon, the founder and president, and Fabien Hyon, managing director.

Controversially, it included a plan to replace missing en primeur wines, including those from the celebrated 2005 vintage, with 2012 Bordeaux Superieur.

But, the deal collapsed when a Luxembourg-based investor called PLF1 based withdrew its support at the beginning of December.

In July 2014, PLF1 said it would pay 1m euros to cover the group’s debts and would invest another 1.5m euros if the recovery plan was accepted.

The public prosecutor was also appealing against the Tribunal’s decision to accept the business recovery plan.

Around 11,000 creditors have submitted claims totaling more than 40m euros against the Heracles group. Complaints over undelivered wine date back to the Bordeaux 2002 vintage en primeur campaign.

‘I am delighted that the Tribunal has finally made the right decision,’ said Helene Poulou, the Bordeaux-base lawyer who represents nearly 400 clients of Heracles.

‘It was very bizarre that the Tribunal de Commerce accepted the recovery plan, because PLF1 were only offering 2.5m euros when the claims against the group total over €40 million.

‘We must now see what monies can be recovered for the clients of Heracles.’

Heracles said previously that more than 500 clients had accepted its recovery plan.

Read more Decanter.com coverage of 1855.com’s struggles:

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