France’s top 10 richest drinks barons

5. Pierre Castel

Worth: €11.5bn
Company: Castel Frères
Sector: Wine and beverages

The first ‘true’ drinks billionaire on this list; the 90-year old Castel founded the company in 1949.

Wine is central to the French group’s portfolio, owning 21 estates in Bordeaux and Provence, including controlling shares in Château Beychevelle, as well as numerous brands from lands it owns across France and also Morocco, Tunisia and Ethiopia and big négociant houses such as Barton & Guestier and Patriarche.

The real money-spinner though is beer. Before it was acquired by AB InBev last year, SAB Miller had formed a partnership with Castel whereby SAB owned 20% of Castel and Castel owned 38% of SAB’s African business. AB InBev has said it wants to “continue to develop and evolve” the partnership now that it has taken over. The deal makes Castel the second-largest beer and soft drinks maker in Africa but there are rumours that the original deal with SAB states that if the Castel Group ever seeks new owners outside of the Castel family then the right to buy must first go to SAB (and now AB InBev).

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