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Top Bordeaux negociant bought by French agribusiness firm

Cordier Mestrezat, one of the top three Bordeaux négociants in terms of turnover, has been sold to a large French agricultural cooperative group, In Vivo.

In Vivo has a revenue of 5.7bn euros across 28 countries, and to date has specialised in the fields of agriculture, animal nutrition and agri-food distribution. This is its first entrance into wine, although it has already some experience of managing vineyards.

Cordier Mestrezat is one of the oldest négociants in Bordeaux, with Cordier dating back to 1886 and Mestrezat to 1815 – the two merged in 2000. In 2010 it had a turnover of €50m, with 70% of that to export. Its turnover is 50% grand crus, 25% petit chateaux and 25% Cordier branded wines, although it is expected that the new owners will concentrate on developing the own-label side of the business.

‘As far as I know it is the first time a cooperative outside of wine has bought a Bordeaux négociant,’ Allan Sichel, president of the Federation of Negociants in Bordeaux, told Decanter.com. ‘In Vivo says its aim is to develop the Cordier brand into a major player. This requires a lot of cash and marketing power; they presumably have both’.

According to Le Figaro newspaper, In Vivo has taken 78% of the capital of the company with an investment of €40 million. The remaining 22% has been taken by Val d’Orbieu, a major wine owner in the Languedoc. The goal, according to In Vivo managing director Thierry Blandinières, is to grow the turnover of the new winemaking venture to €500m by expanding the Cordier name out of Bordeaux, and taking on key French winemaking groups Castel and Grands Chais de France.

‘It is always good when Bordeaux attracts investors,’ Sichel said. ‘It gives confidence, showing that in spite of everything the sector is attractive and some are prepared to invest large amounts of money to have a share of it.’

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