Death of Ricard drinks founder boosts shares

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The Independent Online
Shares in Pernod Ricard rose sharply in Paris yesterday following the death of Paul Ricard one of the founders of the aniseed aperitif group. Investors said the death of the 88-year-old could signal an opening up of the company's tightly held shares.

Ricard's own holding in the company amounted to 12.5 per cent but his relatives and members of the Pernod family, with whom Ricard merged in 1975, own 40 per cent of the equity and control 50 per cent of the votes at Pernod Ricard.

Shares in the company rose as much as 5.4 per cent at one stage before settling 8 francs higher at FF270.5, one of only two stocks to buck the falling trend in France's benchmark CAC 40 index. French shares fell with others in Europe in response to overnight weakness in Asian markets.

Thierry Giradet, a French fund manager, said: "The company has now become a potential takeover target. If his holding is split among the distant family members, maybe they'll sell some of their stake." A Pernod Ricard spokesman said he did not know how the stake would be handled.

Paul Ricard, who founded the Ricard drinks company in 1932, died in his sleep on Thursday night at his home in the south of France. He no longer had a management role at Pernod Ricard, but his son, Patrick, one of five children, is chairman and chief executive.