Toasting a deal: Bollinger takes stake in wine merchant backed by Michael Spencer

Sebastian McCarthy
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From left to right: Gary Boom (BI’s chief executive), Michael Spencer (BI’s Chairman) and Etienne Bizot (chief executive and chairman of SJB)

Champagne house Bollinger has snapped up a minority stake in a UK fine wine merchant backed by City grandee Michael Spencer.

Societe Jacques Bollinger (SJB), the family group behind one of France's most prestigious champagne firms, is understood to have acquired a minority stake of up to 10 per cent in BI Wines & Spirits (BI), the UK-based seller of rare wines.

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BI, which was started by former ICAP trader Gary Boom and is chaired by billionaire entrepreneur Michael Spencer, said the funding will be used to boost growth in its online wine trading platform, LiveTrade.

Founded in 1997, BI has grown to become a global fine wine merchant with offices in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Los Angeles.

Last year the group delivered sales of £95m.

SJB, one of the last remaining 100 per cent family-owned groups in the French wine industry, is also the holding company for Chanson Père & Fils in Burgundy, Langlois-Chateau in the Loire Valley and Delamain in Cognac.

"It is a long-term strategic move for us," said Etienne Bizot, chairman and boss of SJB.

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"In addition to the investment it represents, we believe fine wine consumers will increasingly wish to be connected to the Estates that they follow and the Bollinger family wishes to lead initiatives that will enable a deeper understanding of our unique terroir and style."

BI managing director Gary boom added: "Today celebrates the union of two leading wine businesses looking to cement their global reach. We are very excited to welcome SJB as a long-term shareholder of BI and look forward to the mutual benefits which this partnership will deliver."