French fund bets on wines as safe-haven investments
By Alexandre Boksenbaum-Granier
PARIS (Reuters) - French asset management company Uzes Gestion recently toasted the launch of its Uzes Grands Crus wine fund created to lure investors with a thirst for fine wines and profits.
Similar funds exist outside of France, but theirs is the first regulated by French authorities and likely will appeal to French and other investors. It also couldn't come at a better time. Investors weary of traditional equity funds have the option of an asset class that has proven resilient despite the current euro zone financial crisis.
"Wine has become something like a safe-haven investment," said Thierry Goddet, founder and president of Cavissima, which helps clients directly invest in fine wines. "With the debt crisis crippling financial markets, we've seen new investors flocking in, as they look for defensive investments."
The fund buys cases of wines from wine traders and stores them in a cave in Geneva before reselling them. It includes mostly the best quality wines - known to wine experts as the 'Premiers Crus', or 'first growth'. These are mythical Bordeaux wines such as Chateau Margaux and Chateau Mouton-Rothschild.
Uzes Gestion also plans to invest in less well-known and less-expensive wines, such as 'grands crus' from Burgundy, and other potential gems whose prices might skyrocket in the future.
NOT A SURE THING
To be sure, wine and wine funds aren't risk-free despite the growing worldwide demand for high quality vintages. Commodities, insurance, storage, transportation and other costs could rise, and demand for wine drop if the economy worsens.
The fund is primarily for money managers, pension funds and qualified investors who understand the risks. Potential investors must have a personal portfolio of more than 500,000 euros ($630,000) and regularly invest in financial markets. Continued...