Duke Street Capital exits French winery

Duke Street Capital, the Anglo-French private equity outfit, has sold its majority (69.3%) stake in Marie Brizard & Roger International (MBRI) to French Spirits Group Belvédère. The enterprise value amounted to €397m (including net debt), but Group Belvédère is understood to have raised €465m to cover transaction costs and refinance its debt.

MBRI has provided the buyout firm with a cash-on-cash return of 2.3 times its investment, which amounted to €82m, according to Xavier Clarke of Duke Street Capital.

Duke Street Capital had acquired a majority stake in Marie Brizard, a company listed on the secondary market of the Paris Stock Exchange, in May 2000 for a total consideration of €60m. At the time, the family-controlled company had been experiencing commercial and financial difficulties.

The private equity firm had subsequently supported the add-on acquisition of independent wine producer Les Chais Beaucairois in August 2002 with a €22m capital increase.

The acquisition of spirits producer William Pitters in March 2005 had been fully financed by issuing debt.

During Duke Street Capital’s stewardship, MBRI had also disposed of Sorevi wines (in 2004), SNCB wines (2003), Marie Brizard’s US Wines and Spirits subsidiary (2003) and its gastronomic division (2005).

Frederic Chauffier, managing partner of Duke Street Capital, said: “Marie Brizard has been radically transformed between 2000 and 2006. With a turnover of €334m in 2005 and Ebitda of €38.5m, the group has created a solid base from which to continue to pursue strong growth opportunities, both in France and internationally.”