Allegrini 2018

The drinks business

LVMH in takeover talks with Castello Banfi … Luxury goods giant LVMH is reportedly in discussions with revered Brunello estate Castello Banfi in Montalcino with regards to a potential acquisition of the company. According to Italian website Wine News, the French luxury group, run by Bernard Arnault, has been in talks with Castello Banfi “for eight months”, though the potential takeover is still very much in the negotiation process. If it were to happen this wouldn’t be the first high profile acquisition of a Brunello estate by a French drinks giant. In 2017 EPI, owners of the Charles and Piper-Heidsieck Champagne brands, bought a controlling stake in Biondi-Santi. If LVMH was to buy Banfi, it would further cement the importance of Montalcino and Brunello on the world stage. With its close ties to the US and ongoing success in the North American market, Banfi’s appeal to LVMH is evident. The estate has grown to become one of the leading lights in Montalcino, and its owners, the Mariani family, are credited with introducing Americans to Italian wine in the late 1960s. One third of the 2,830ha Castello Banfi estate is under vine in a constellation of single vineyards, with the remainder occupied by olive groves, wheat fields and plum trees. The estate is run by CEO Cristina Mariani-May, who splits her time between Italy and the US. The company had a turnover of €68 million in 2018, and a net profit of €2.2m. Celebrated as the “builders of Brunello”, the Mariani family has expanded beyond Montalcino – its portfolio takes in wines from the Maremma, Bolgheri, Chianti, Chianti Classico and Piedmont, which are exported to 85 countries. In addition to wine, Castello Banfi produces its own honey and olive oil. It also boasts a boutique hotel called Il Borgo with 14 rooms, eight suites and a fine dining restaurant. Last November, LVMH acquired luxury American jeweller Tiffany & Co for US$16.2 billion. The following month the firm bought a controlling stake in Provence rosé producer Château d’Esclans for an undisclosed sum. Among the drinks brands within its portfolio are Champagne brands Krug and Dom Pérignon, Bordeaux estates Cheval Blanc and Château d’Yquem, Cloudy Bay in New Zealand, whisky brands Ardbeg and Glenmorangnie, Belvedere vodka and Henessy Cognac.

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