Baccarat in search of an active buyer

Eva Morletto

By Eva Morletto13 septembre 2023

Baccarat is on the lookout for a new buyer after a tumultuous period under the leadership of Chinese billionaire Coco Chu. Despite a full order book, the luxury crystal maker faces substantial debts estimated at over €165 million.

Founded in 1754 by King Louis XV, Baccarat is an emblem of French luxury crystal. Here, the 'Véga' martini glass set by Baccarat (Baccarat)

The prestigious French house Baccarat, specializing in luxury crystalware since its founding in 1754 by King Louis XV, aims to turn a new page after years of turbulent changes in management and ownership.

According to information reported by the French newspaper Les Échos, Tor Investment and Sammasan Capital, creditors from Hong Kong and now the major shareholders of Baccarat, have appointed the bank Messier & Associés, the third independent French financial advisory firm, to find a buyer. Asian companies, Middle Eastern entities, and a Swiss fund are currently competing to take the reins of this French craftsmanship gem.

In 2018, the renowned crystal maker became the property of Fortune Fountain, a "family office" led by Chinese billionaire Coco Chu, in a transaction valued at €164 million (approximately $185 million). She had committed to investing around €50 million, particularly to revive the crystalware business and target the luxury hotel boutique market worldwide. Additionally, €3 to €5 million were earmarked for innovation in the historic workshops located in Meurthe-et-Moselle. However, due to the impact of the pandemic in 2020 and a 19% drop in first-quarter revenue, Coco Chu did not fulfill her commitments.

Several previous French takeover attempts have failed, including one by Renaud Dutreil, a former French minister and former head of LVMH's New York subsidiary. Furthermore, Chargeurs, the French industrial group specializing in high-value-added products, deemed the €400 million requested by the two Hong Kong funds to buy Baccarat excessive compared to the company's financial results.

Currently, Baccarat has a full order book for the next four months. Despite shareholder turmoil, crystalware products remain a safe bet for buyers worldwide. However, Messier & Associés will need to swiftly find a trustworthy buyer, as the debts left by Coco Chu are estimated to exceed €165 million.

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