Arnault airs fresh merger ideas

Guinness and Grand Metropolitan were last night studying fresh merger proposals tabled by Bernard Arnault, chairman of the French LVMH luxury goods group, at a crunch meeting over lunch in Paris yesterday.

Mr Arnault, who is objecting to the straight pounds 23bn merger planned between the two UK companies, wants to form an independently quoted company comprising the drinks operations of LVMH, GrandMet, and Guinness.

However, the new plan looks set to be rejected by GrandMet and Guinness, despite Mr Arnault conceding some ground from his original proposals, which would have involved all three companies owning stakes in a demerged but unquoted drinks giant.

A spokesman for LVMH, which owns the Moet Hennessy drinks group, claimed that "Guinness and GrandMet have agreed to study our proposals ... this is a step in the right direction".

A statement released on behalf of Tony Greener and George Bull, respective chairmen of Guinness and GrandMet who both attended yesterday's meeting, was less optimistic. "We made it clear to Mr Arnault that we are, of course, open to any proposals provided they create additional value for our shareholders beyond our existing proposal, and that this is fairly shared between them," the statement said.

Drinks analysts believe that Mr Arnault is hoping to swap LVMH's 66 per cent stake in Moet Hennessy along with his substantial shareholdings in Guinness and GrandMet for up to a 40 per cent stake in the combined spirits group. And at the same time, they believe he has made it clear that he was unwilling to sell LVMH's 66 per cent stake in Moet Hennessy at any price.

If the two UK companies reject Mr Arnault's proposals and talks between the two sides break down then LVMH will continue its legal battle to acquire Guinness's 34 per cent stake in Moet Hennessy. It claims the GrandMet- Guinness merger signifies a change of control of Guinness and gives it a pre-emptive right to buy back the minority shareholding.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Content Writer - Global Financial Services

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: From modest beginnings the comp...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Consultant - Financial Services - OTE £65,000

£15000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Underwriter

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border