Bordeaux chateau owner Jean-Paul Lafragette will cede his share of spirits company L&L to US drinks giant Kobrand in order to pay back money taken from the business.
Lafragette, who has been under investigation for misappropriation of company funds, was taken into police custody last month and held in prison. A member of the Lafragette family said he had been released last week.
Kobrand, already a majority shareholder in L&L, has been the American distributor of L&L’s principal product, a Cognac-based cocktail called Alizé, for more than 20 years.
Speaking from New York, Michael Insel, a trustee for the Kopf family, owners of Kobrand, said full control of L&L would pass to Kobrand via a holding company called French American Vintners.
Insel explained that the Lafragette family had in effect sold their 49.98% share in L&L to pay back money that had been taken.
‘In satisfaction of what is owed to L&L the Lafragette family are transferring their shares to L&L, and since their shares are worth slightly more than what is owed, they will get a small payment,’ he said.
Insel said the transaction had yet to be approved by courts in Bordeaux and Cognac, but that he hoped this would occur by the end of the month.
Other sources in Cognac today confirmed that almost all the assets the Lafragette family owned there were sold in 2007 The final asset to be sold was a large distillery, in the centre of Cognac, capable of producing 5m bottles a year. This went to a Franco-Russian group in a deal concluded last December.
It is also understood that at least one of Lafragette’s three chateaux, Château de Rouillac in Pessac Leognan, could be for sale.
Lafragette also owns Château Loudenne in the Medoc and Château de l’Hopital in Graves.
Kobrand’s wine and spirit portfolio includes Burgundy producer Louis Jadot, Italy’s Michele Chiarlo, Taittinger Champagne and Craggy Range in New Zealand.
Written by Sophie Kevany in Bordeaux