Laurent-Perrier, a publicly traded Champagne house, has signed a binding agreement to merge with Château Malakoff, said Laurent-Perrier CEO Yves Dumont. The final transfer of shares will occur in early 2004.
The merger must first satisfy European Union and French antitrust laws, which look at land transfers within the country.
The deal gives more land and additional grape supply to Laurent-Perrier, which currently produces an average of 540,000 cases of Champagne a year. With Malakoff's 740 acres, Laurent-Perrier's vineyard holdings will total 2,225 acres.
"It makes Laurent-Perrier stronger for the long term," Dumont said. "The IPO in 1999 gave us financial independence. This deal gives us supply independence."
Château Malakoff owns the Beaumet, Jeanmaire and Oudinot brands.