UI Gestion literally pulled the ripcord at the eleventh hour when buying Brasserie Licorne in Saverne, France. As reported three weeks ago, the German Karlsberg Group from Homburg (Saar) wanted to sell its French subsidiary Licorne Group comprising of Brasserie Licorne, Karlsbräu CHR and Saverne Transport after more than 30 years. Designated buyer was UI Gestion, a former subsidiary of Crédit Agricole Group which acts since 2004 as an independent investment group (inside.beer, 6.3.2020). The Paris-based investment group and some of the brewery’s local management under the lead of managing director Dominique Baudendistel wanted to run the 900.000 hl brewery independently.
The sales talks "will not be followed up in the current situation," both parties said. “After discussions with the management of the Brasserie Licorne and the Karlsberg Group, all parties agreed to suspend the negotiations in order to put their energy into the safety of the employees and the business continuity,” Michel Deprez, CEO of UI Gestion, said in a statement. “UI Gestion remains convinced that Brasserie Licorne has a strong team and the resources to successfully develop its activities and is prepared to resume negotiations to support the group in the future. We are pleased that we were able to have constructive discussions with Dominique Baudendistel and Christian Weber in this difficult time. "
However, people close to the matter report, that UI Gestion claimed force majeure, a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, plague, or an event described by the legal term act of God (hurricane, flood, earthquake, volcanic eruption, etc.) occurs.
The negotiations are officially only suspended. UI Gestion is ready to resume negotiations in the future. However, it is questionable if the undisclosed sales price will remain the same after the crisis which will also hit hard Brasserie Licorne like the rest of the industry.