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Taittinger suitors down to four

Published:  23 July, 2008

The contenders to take over Taittinger Champagne have been whittled down to a short list from the 40 or so who expressed initial interest.

Starwood, the US hotels and property group that bought Taittinger as part of its takeover of Socit du Louvre last year, is not commenting on who might be left in the race, but it is understood that they include potential trade and private equity buyers as well as the Taittinger family.

Sources in Paris suggest that the lowest offers received value the Champagne brand at about 500 million.

The second round of bidding, which should be concluded in May, is said to include the Taittinger family backed by Crdit Agricole as well as CVC Capital Partners and Apax, the UK-based private equity groups. In addition, it is thought that Bridgepoint of the US and Paris-based Butler Capital Partners, which tried unsuccessfully to buy Lanson last year, remain in contention, while Freixnet has refused to deny interest in bidding.

Among those who have dropped out are both Pernod Ricard and the Belgian financier Albert Frre, whose sale of a stake in Socit du Louvre triggered the disposal of Taittinger to Starwood. Trade rumours had also suggested that Champagne Louis Roederer might be interested in making a bid, but this is now discounted.