China food firm buys French vineyard

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Major Chinese food company COFCO has bought a top French vineyard, the Chateau de Viaud near Bordeaux, lawyers and managers involved in the deal said on Tuesday.

It was the fourth major purchase by a Chinese company of wine property in the famed Bordeaux grape region since 2008, and comes amid fast-growing investment by China across Europe.

"The deal illustrates the growing interest of China in French wine-growing excellence in response to exponential Chinese demand for quality wines," said a statement from top Paris law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel.

It said the chateau's owner Philippe Raoux had sold the 18-hectare property for an unspecified amount to COFCO, which is listed in Hong Kong and majority owned by the Chinese state.

It described the property as "a top-rate vineyard" in the coveted Lalande-de-Pomerol wine region. Vineyard managers confirmed the sale to AFP.

The law firm said COFCO is the biggest Chinese foodstuffs company with turnover of more than $21 billion (15 billion euros).

COFCO's website says it is a Fortune-listed leading importer and exporter of grain, oils and foodstuffs and "is also very successful in real estate, hotel business and financial services".

© 2011 AFP

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