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Published:  23 July, 2008

Freixenet, the Spanish group, has bought Yvon Mau SA, as forecast exclusively in Harpers, 24 August. Jean-Franois Mau said: "Over recent months I have been seeking a solution to the problems raised by concerns over the family succession, at the same time as pursuing the growth strategy of our business. After much reflection we have decided to sell our business interests to Freixenet. "As I am nearly 56, it was essential for me to safeguard our family's inheritance for the future." Mau intends to invest some of the proceeds of the sale of Yvon Mau SA in vineyard property. Chteau Ducla and Chteau Preuillac remain under family ownership, and he envisages further investments in properties in Bordeaux. Mau will continue as chief executive of Yvon Mau SA, and the company "retains its operating autonomy, whilst also benefiting from commercial and financial synergies with a group of true global reach". Mau believes that there are two main commercial wine jobs in France, as in the rest of the world: those of the wine merchant and the brand builder. "The future belongs to the brand builders. This has always been my conviction, and it is now stronger than ever," he said. "The limited resources of a medium-sized company are no match for the New World wine companies who, in only a few years, have developed brands and built distribution networks, and who have accumulated resources, sales and marketing spend which Yvon Mau does not possess now and, on its own, never could." Yvon Mau is one of the most important French wine ngociants, with a turnover in 2000 of FFr545 million ($75 million). It has also created one of the biggest-selling Bordeaux brands in the world, Yvecourt, and five years ago launched Premius, a quality Bordeaux aged in oak barrels. With its partners in San Francisco and Hong Kong, and its offices in London, Tokyo and Moscow, Yvon Mau covers the world and achieves 54% of its sales in export markets. Freixenet accounts for 77% of exported Cava and claims to have the largest quality sparkling wine of any origin. Already owner of one French company, the Champagne house Henri Abele, Freixenet is based in the Peneds region of Catalonia and produces 130 million bottles of Cava a year, exporting 75% of its production to more than 140 countries. The company also owns the Cava brands Segura-Viudas, Castellblanch and Conde de Caralt, and a number of companies specialising in still wine production, namely Ren Barbier and Segura-Viudas in Spain, Gloria Ferrer in California and Dolores Sala in Mexico. As part of the development of its still wine portfolio, Freixenet has recently acquired a majority interest in the Wingara Wine Group, in Australia.