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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jim Budd

Rmy-Pannier, one of the Loire's leading ngociants, has been bought by a group of five Loire co-operatives, led by the Cave des Vignerons de Saumur. Rmy-Pannier owns the Ackerman-Laurance and De Neuville brands and has a turnover of FFr314 million. The sale comes less than three weeks after two other important Loire ngociant companies, Donatien Bahuaud and Pierre Chainier, announced that they had formed a partnership. Loire ngociants are finding trading tough, with their margins squeezed, so this may have been a factor in the Rmy family's decision to sell. Prior to the sale, the Rmy family owned 68% of the shares, with the remainder held by banks and a number of small shareholders. The sale price has not been disclosed, but the Cave de Saumur now holds one third of the shares. The other four co-operatives (Cave des Grands Vins de Bourgueil, Les Matres Vignerons Nantais, Terrana in Ancenis and La Cave des Producteurs de Vouvray) also have a third. All of the co-operatives are members of Loire Alliance, the recently formed association of seven Loire co-ops. The remaining shares continue to be held by banks and small shareholders. Dominique Amirault, until recently the director-general of Rmy, has recently left the company. Bernard Jacob, the Saumur co-op's press spokesman, said: We will relaunch Ackerman. Recently, Rmy-Pannier made the mistake of diversifying too much by launching brands like Dames de la Valle. We need to sharpen the focus.' Claude Guichet, export director of the Saumur co-op, said: Financially and commercially it is more interesting for us to develop our own sparkling wine sales. Here, Ackerman-Laurance will be particularly important.'