Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Frey closes in on Jaboulet

Published:  23 July, 2008

Leading Rhne merchant and grower Paul Jaboulet An -
one of the major vineyard owners in AOC Hermitage -
is close to agreeing a deal to sell the company to Swiss financier Jean-Jacques Frey for an undisclosed sum.

According to the company's president Michel Jaboulet: Our company is like many in France that, due to tax and succession difficulties, are looking to sell. Some members of the family indicated that they wanted to sell their part of the company, so we decided to look for a buyer for the whole group about a year ago. We have now received a firm offer.'

Jaboulet has some of the finest vineyard sites in France with 22 hectares (ha) of Syrah in Hermitage and 62ha of Crozes-Hermitage, as well as parcels in Cornas, Condrieu

and other Rhne AOCs.

Although it has long been seen as one of France's finest producers, it has suffered criticism recently for not living up to its reputation (most notably from Jancis Robinson MW), especially its flagship wine, Hermitage La Chapelle.

Jean-Jacques Frey already owns Bordeaux's Chteau La Lagune, has holdings in Champagne house Billecart-Salmon and recently sold Champagne Ayala to Champagne Bollinger.

Michel Jaboulet said that an offer has been made and that the company was currently undertaking an audit, after which the current offer will be re-evaluated. If everything goes well, we could see the process completed by January, but there are still a lot of things that need to be confirmed.'

He added that it is hoped that Frey would keep on some members of the family who currently work in the business, such as oenologist Laurent Jaboulet and Nicolas Jaboulet, who looks after the UK market. I think that they would like to keep some family involvement in the business, although I think it will be the end of the involvement of the older members of the family.'

It was rumoured that the Prats family, the former owners of Chteau Cos d'Estournel, was also interested in buying the business but has since pulled out.

Nick Clarke MW, managing director of Jaboulet's UK importer Dreyfuss Russell, said he hoped that - if the deal went through - Frey would continue the investment programme that Jaboulet has been running for the past two years, which has seen massive sums' spent on new bottling facilities, tank space and administration facilities.