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Remy completes Champagne sale to EPI

Rémy Cointreau has announced the sale of its Champagne division – which includes the Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck brands – to EPI for €412 million, but will continue to distribute the brands.

The announcement comes after protracted talks which began at the end of February this year.

EPI, a family owned group run by Christopher Descours, owns a number of French trademarks in the upmarket goods market, such as JM Weston, Bonpoint, Alain Figaret, François Pinet and Michel Perry, as well as Château La Verrerie. EPI also carries out a diversified investment policy.

The Champagne division’s turnover was €103.6m in the year ended 31 March 2011, an increase of 7.2% on the previous year.

In addition to the full payment of the debt owed to the Rémy Cointreau Group by the companies sold – believed to be around €240m – the French drinks group will receive, after taking into account certain adjustments already agreed among the parties, a purchase price for the shares amounting to €146.3m, including an immediate first payment of €71.3m.

Rémy Cointreau has granted a seller’s loan for a period of nine years for the portion of the price of the shares not subject to immediate payment.

In addition, Rémy Cointreau and EPI have signed a global distribution agreement for the Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck brands, as well as for Piper Sonoma in the US.

Rémy Cointreau chief executive Jean-Marie Laborde said: “The sale is entirely consistent with the acceleration of our value strategy, which focuses on our international liqueurs and spirits brands and businesses. The proceeds of the sale will enable us to fund our development in major markets of today as well as in markets with strong potential for future growth.

EPI chairman Christopher Descours added: “This new initiative will strengthen our commitment to wine-making, initiated 20 years ago with Chateau La Verrerie (Lubéron.)

“Given the very favourable environment for the Champagne market, this acquisition represents an exceptional opportunity."

The sale is expected to be completed this summer.

Alan Lodge, 01.06.2011

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