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Rosé maker to Queen Elizabeth II said to eye deal for Spain's Chivite

[LONDON] Sogrape Vinhos SA, the Portuguese winemaker whose Mateus Rosé wines have been served to Queen Elizabeth II and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, has bid for 370-year-old J Chivite Family Estates SL, people familiar with the matter said.

Cava producer Cavas Castillo de Perelada SA has also made a binding offer for the closely held Spanish winemaker, the people said, asking not to be identified because the deliberations are private. A deal could value Chivite, which is majority owned by Spanish banks including Banco Santander SA and Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, at 25 million euros (S$40.23 million) to 35 million euros including debt, the people said.

The sale of Chivite, which is still about 20 per cent owned by its founding family, is being managed by Project Phoenix, a joint venture controlled by Alantra Partners SA and McKinsey & Co. that targets companies with high debt loads, the people said. Spanish news website Vozpopuli reported Tuesday that Chivite's owners were nearing a sale.

Representatives for Sogrape, Perelada and Chivite didn't immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Phoenix declined to comment.

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Chivite traces its roots back to 1647 and produces wines such as Chivite Las Fincas, a collaboration with Michelin-starred chef Juan Mari Arzak, according to its website. Sogrape estimates that it's sold more than a billion bottles of its trademark rosé Mateus, whose bottle shape was inspired by soldiers' canteens in World War I.