Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Thursday, 6 December 2012

1855 – is this the end as Jean-Pierre Meyers pulls out?

Item 4 on a Google search on Jean-Pierre Meyers links him with 1855  

La Revue du Vin de France is reporting (5.12.12) that Jean-Pierre Meyers, one of 1855's principal investors is pulling his money out of 1855. Quoting a close associate of Meyers LARVF reports that around two months ago Meyers instructed his lawyers, Bredin Prat who are based on the fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in the centre of Paris, to liquidate his investment in 1855. 

The report explains that Meyers has decided that his association with 1855 with its toxic reputation is damaging his own reputation. Meyers, married to Françoise Bettencourt the daughter of L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt, is on the boards of both L'Oréal and Nestlé. He is also managing director of Thelys, the Bettencourt's holding company that controls 30% of L'Oréal and 6% of Nestlé. Mention that Meyers was a long-term investor in 1855 has been expunged from his Wikipedia entry.

It cannot have been comfortable for Meyers to have seen 1855 labelled as an 'arnaque' by France2 (August 2012) or the increasing number of court judgments against 1855 in Paris, Bordeaux and Arcachon coupled with the knowledge that there are several hundred cases in process. 

Nor can Meyers have been comfortable with the complaints from some of the top châteaux of Bordeaux including the Cathiards of Smith-Haut-Lafitte who are personal friends of the Bettencourt-Meyers and furious that clients of 1855 have paid 1855 for cases of their wine which were not delivered.

Meyers may well have been embarrassed when Philippe Castéja, president of the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855, criticised 1855's 'business' practices in late July 2012. Little wonder that Sylvain Boivert, director of the Conseil greeted the LAVRF news of Meyers' quitting as 'La bonne nouvelle du jour..' (Today's good news story)! 

Another factor for Meyers may have been the founding of Abus1855 with the eventual aim of getting 1855 closed down because of its fraudulent practices. Report here on members of Abus1855 picketing a swanky 1855 Champagne function at the Intercontinental in Paris.

Little wonder that shares in 1855 are now trading at 0.02€ on the Paris Bourse valuing the company at 10.66€ million. It remains to be seen whether 1855 can attract other investors to fill the place of Meyers. At the last injection of capital into 1855, it was announced that Midi Capital associated with the Caisse d'Epargne was a new investor in 1855. It will be interesting to see how long Midi Capital or Caisse d'Epargne customers will want to be associated with an 'arnaque'!

1855 has called an EGM for 10.30 Friday 21st December in Paris at the Ibis Hotel Paris Gare du Lyon Ledru Rollin, 41/43 Avenue Ledru Rollin, 75012 Paris to vote on restucturing 1855's junk shares. I assume that members of Abus1855 will be picketing this meeting.  

Will Meyers pulling out prove to be terminal for 1855? To lose the support of one of France's leading businessmen cannot be good news despite whatever gloss Fabien Hyon wants to put on Meyers' departure. See Hyon's comments below. It confirms that close association with 1855 can be a truly toxic experience.


Earlier today I emailed the following questions to Fabien Hyon, managing director of the 1855 group of companies:

Dear Fabien Hyon

I have been asked by Decanter to write a news report based on the news (LAVF – 5.12.12) that Jean-Pierre Meyers is reported to be withdrawing the capital he has invested in 1855.

Could you confirm that M.Meyers is withdrawing his capital?

Also has 1855 been able to find other investors to replace M.Meyers and will 1855 and its associated companies be able to continue to trade without his support and capital?

Fabien Hyon's response: 

Although the last time you asked for information, you decided not to take it into account as it did not fit in your "story telling", you may be interested in relating some facts and figures regarding this matter.

1) Jean-Pierre Meyers was not a shareholder of 1855 but a shareholder of the founder's holding.

2) Jean-Pierre Meyers was a minority shareholder of the founder's holding and, consequently, has never been a main source of funding for 1855. 

The RVF figures — that they have not bothered checking — do not relate to any reality and are widely over-evaluated.

3) Said otherwise, should Jean-Pierre Meyers have been of any type of "guarantee" or some real "source" of fundings, 1855 would have never gone through the tensions that you have witnessed relating Bordeaux Primeurs delayed deliveries.

4) 1855 still benefits from three main sources of fundings :

- its profitability, confirmed for S1 2012,

- access to the stock market,

- the founder's holding financial standing

5) The exit of Jean-Pierre Meyers from the founder's holding has not generated any weakening of the 1855's financial structure. As a matter of fact, it has been an opportunity to reinforce the financial structure of the 1855 group. It is a pleasure to announce that a group of new shareholders has join the founder's holding: they are authentic entrepreneurs, strongly involved in the development of 1855 for the coming years.

Fabien Hyon

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