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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 December 2005, 13:14 GMT
Lanson champagne set for takeover
Lanson champagne
Lanson is a well-known champagne house in the UK
As champagne enjoys its traditional festive surge in sales, one of the wine's biggest producers is about to be bought by a lesser-known rival.

Lanson, one of the best selling champagnes in the UK, is in exclusive talks to be taken over by Boizel.

While global champagne sales have surged in recent years, Lanson has struggled with losses.

It made a net loss of 10m euros ($12m; 7m) last year. However, it has stocks of champagne worth 420m euros.

Family firms

Lanson, which was established in 1760, is being sold by the Mora family, which has a 65% majority stake, and the Caisse d'Epargne mutual bank.

Boizel champagne
Boizel concentrates its sales within France

Analysts said the family needed to sell after a failed attempt to significantly increase its annual production still further.

It was hampered by the fact Lanson has very few vineyards of its own, instead buying in the great majority of grapes it needs from co-operatives and other small producers.

While it is standard practice for large champagne houses to buy in additional grapes, it is unusual to do so on the scale that Lanson does.

Concentrated ownership

Boizel, founded in 1834, is owned by the Paillard, Baijot and Roques-Boizel families.

It said a final agreement could be concluded in the coming weeks, although no details were released on how much it expects to pay.

The sale of Lanson would be just the latest acquisition in the champagne sector.

Earlier this month financial group Starwood Capital bought hotels and champagne group Taittinger, although it now intends to sell the champagne part of the business.

The most famous names in champagne are today in a limited number of hands.

Remy Cointreau owns Gosset and Piper Heidsieck, while luxury goods giant LVMH has Krug, Moet & Chandon, Dom Perignon, Ruinart, and Veuve Cliquot Ponsardin.

Allied-Domecq owns Perrier Jouet and Mumm.

Notable brands that remain independent include Bollinger, Louis Roederer and Pol Roger.

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