Major Bordeaux negociant Mahler-Besse has been bought by the Casteja family, owners of rival negociant Borie-Manoux.
Mahler-Besse was founded in 1892 and was most recently run by Stephanie Mahler-Faguer. It had sales of €32m in 2013.
As part of the sale, which was finalised on 11 July, Mahler-Faguer has sold her majority holding, but her brother, Franck Mahler-Besse, will continue to hold a minority stake in the negociant. A fee was not disclosed.
‘Mahler-Besse has been sold because of family circumstances,’ one observer told Decanter.com. ‘But the timing is also a reflection of the difficult economic climate for Bordeaux wines, as a number of merchants are officially or unofficially on the market.’
The Casteja family, headed up by Philippe Casteja, owner of 10 Bordeaux properties including Chateau Batailley in Pauillac and Chateau Trotte Vieille in Saint Emilion, does not appear to be one of those facing difficulties.
The family had €290m fortune in 2013, up by 45% on 2012, according to France’s Challenges magazine. The Castejas bought Grands Vins de Gironde (GVG) négociants in 2011, and its latest purchase makes it one of the most significant wine merchants in the Bordeaux region.
The family’s holding company, BCAP, had sales of around €140m in 2013, including both the merchant and chateaux businesses.
‘BCAP will bring the stability that Mahler-Besse’s shareholders are looking for, working alongside family shareholders such as Franck Mahler-Besse,’ Philippe Casteja told Decanter.com. ‘The investment will allow him to continue to develop the business separately while having the advantage of being backed by the group.’
Borie-Manoux is currently building new premises in downtown Bordeaux.
Separately, the Mahler-Besse family continues to jointly own Chateau Palmer in Margaux with the Sichel family.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux