26 April, 2000

Ricard wants to sell Mumm in China

Two of the grande marques of Champagne, Mumm and Perrier-Jouët, are amongst the wellknown producers of vine and alcohol, that right now wait to know who will be their new owners. The decision may be interesting for the future.

Today the two brands - based in respectively Reims and Épernay - belongs to Allied Domecq. But the british group is up for sale for the best bid, which only last week seemed to be that of french group Pernod Ricard. 10,7 billion euros for brands such as Ballantine's, Malibu, Stolichnaya and Beefeater. Besides the champagnes. A purchase, that would make Pernod Ricard the worlds secondbiggest group on wine and spirits, and the partner, Fortune Brands, a world number four.

But now the competitors want to join in. The american group Constellation Brands, the biggest winegroup in the world, currently considers its possibilites of making a bid, and the giant, british Diageo, may wait in the wings. And Allied Domecq is certainly not untouchable. A better bid from someone else in the last minute may involve, that Pernod Ricard looses its spoil.

However, if the French succeed, it will be Pernod Ricards entry ticket to the champagneindustry. Today Mumm and Perrier-Jouët is mainly sold on the french and the british market. But it may not remain so forever. Chairman and CEO Patrick Ricard last week said to Le Figaro, that he plans to keep the champagnes, because international customers - he names China - buys more and more of the french prestige wine.

Last years rise in the export to China with its 86 percent certainly seems to offer an interesting potential for the champagnehouses in the future.

Whether Pernod Ricard will get a try selling Mumm in China or not, is future music so far. In the end of June the shareholders in the two groups will decide on the offer, which in case of "go" can be finished in the end of July or early August. That is, if Constellation Brands do not succeed persuading Allied Domecq to change side before the last act.

Read more at Independent, Bloomberg.com eller CNN, interview with Patrick Ricard at The Telegraph or numbers in the official export statistics (PDF).

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