*By Magdalena Kogutowska
Castel group President Pierre Castel has sold 60% of his shares held in Alma, the holding company of Castel, to long term business partner Pierre Papillaud.**
The Castel group owns the successful French bottled water brand Cristaline which has overtaken Evian, Vittel and Volvic in volume sales. The new owners have yet to disclose full details of the financial agreement but the transaction is rumoured to be worth over €600 million.
Alma, with a sales turnover of around €900 million, was too large for Papillaud alone to buy. Papillaud, the owner of Roxane, will become the majority shareholder of Neptune and Cristaline and will arrange 51% of the finance for the deal, while the remaining 49% will be financed by a Japanese-American partnership, Otsuka Beverage Co, also responsible for marketing the Neptune brand in Japan.
Previously, Roxane worked together with Otsuka to create the Crystal Geyser brand in the United States.
At the age of 81 years old, Pierre Castel told French journalists that he was not planning retirement, but that he would focus his efforts on wine, a beer venture in Africa and carbonated beverages. The Castel group also has plans to set up an olive tree plantation in Morocco that will have its first harvest next year.
At the beginning of the 1990s, the French bottled water market was still essentially dominated by single-source mineral waters produced by three owners – Nestlé, Danone and Neptune. Neptune owners, Castel and Papillaud, decided to create a value business model based on sourcing the water from 22 different springs to compete in the domestic market. Soon, Cristaline became the best selling volume brand in France.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019