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La Martiniquaise president to step into MBWS chairman role

The president of La Martiniquaise is set to be appointed chairman of fellow French firm Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits under the terms of an approved rescue plan, which will also include the divestment of two drinks brands.

Marie Brizard Wine & Spirits faced “significant operating and financial difficulties” in 2018

MBWS has obtained authorisation from France’s anti-trust authority for La Martiniquaise parent company Compagnie Financière de Prises de Participations (COFEPP) to invest €37.7 million (US$42.7m) in the business.

The move comes after MBWS, maker of Sobieski Vodka and William Peel Scotch, estimated its would record a net loss of between €60 million and €65m in 2018. The firm said it had faced “significant operating and financial difficulties”.

In a statement released on Friday (1 March), MBWS said it was “not in a position to definitely confirm” its estimated net sales loss following its agreement with COFEPP.

Under the terms of the authorisation, COFEPP has agreed to sell its Tiscaz Tequila brand, as well as the Porto Pitters Port brand owned by MBWS, however the impact of the sales “will not be significant”.

Governance at MBWS will also alter under the deal, with Constance Benqué, president of Lagardère Publicité; Christine Mondollot, former CEO of Virgin France; and Benoît Hérault, chairman of MBWS, stepping down from the board of directors.

George Graux, head of finance at La Martiniquaise, has been appointed MBWS chairman on a temporary basis.

The company’s shareholders will be asked at an AGM to amend its by-laws and extend the age limit for the chairman of the board of directors, enabling La Martiniquaise president Jean-Pierre Cayard 
to step into the role.

In addition, Pascale Anquetil, Anna Luc 
and Cyril Cahart 
have been appointed to the MBWS board.

MBWS will confirm its FY 2018 net sales and announce its Q1 2019 net sales on 30 April. Preliminary figures show that MBWS recorded a 6% organic net sales loss in 2018.

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