CEDCâs second acquisition option in Russia comes into view
- February 27, 2008
||structured business acquisition intention announced, February 2008
||The Whitehall Group (Russia), domestic wine and spirits importer and distributor
||Central European Distribution Corporation (Poland), leading vodka supplier in CE
||founder of Whitehall, Mark Kaouffman, and minority shareholders
||market entry into Russia, distribution system and network
||expansion of portfolio
||CEDC claims to be the no.4 global vodka business by volume
Recently in Glenboden, we reviewed CEDCâs attempt to acquire the Parliament vodka brand in Russia. We thought that the Russian vodka market is in danger of becoming âbanalisedâ; that CEDC should focus more on gaining distribution in Russia, rather than on acquiring a local brand with questionable equity there. Now, it might be that CEDC will one day finalise the acquisition of Parliament; however this deal with Whitehall suggests they are wisely prioritizing distribution after all.
Thatâs not to say that closing a deal with Whitehall is going to be easy, even if it doesnât include a tricky brand valuation as Parliament does. The transaction is âsubject to negotiation and completion of an acquisition dealâ, which already sounds like the outcome is unclear.
Also, the deal structure appears to include a mismatch between voting share and economic benefit; CEDC is to have 49,9% of the former, with Whitehallâs founder Mark Kaouffman retaining control, but 75% of the latter. Whatâs more, the option to buy out Mr Kaouffmanâs shares triggers as far out as 2013. The only thing thatâs clear in such a structure is that itâs a precarious one,
Fundamentally, however, Whitehall seems to present an attractive platform for CEDC to fulfill its major ambition of penetrating Russia. Itâs reported to have generated $ 200 mln in net sales from 1,2 mln cases of wine and spirits, which indeed points to a very premium offering at a time when the premiumisation trend in Russia is strong. It also has four distribution centres spanning Moscow, St Petersburg, Rostov and Siberia.
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