CL Financial, the Caribbean company which late last year became a major shareholder in the Burn Stewart Scotch whisky group, has added another European spirit maker to its portfolio - France's Belvedere.
CL Financial has signed an agreement with the Rouvroy and Trylinski families, the main shareholders in Belvedere, granting it up to 21.1 8 per cent of the company's shares.
The vodka maker, which owns a number of Polish brands, will increase its share capital to allow CL Financial to take a 10.1 per cent stake in the company. The investor group will then have the option to acquire a further 11. 17 per cent in Belvedere by 30 May 2003.
The Rouvroy and Trylinski families will not sell any of their shares as part of the deal, but because of the capital increase they will see their shareholdings diluted to 44.96 per cent. They will retain 59.08 per cent of the voting rights.
CL Financial will pay €63 per share for its stake in Belvedere, valuing the capital increase at €10.5 million and the sale of existing shares at €7.9 million.
The sale of the stake in Belvedere follows an earlier agreement between CL Financial and the French company. In September last year the two companies reached a deal which saw CL's French unit Auxil agree to distribute Belvedere's premium spirits in France.
Belvedere said the deal would give it the necessary means to finance its expansion strategy, which focuses on vodka and wine production and marketing in a number of east European countries. The two companies will also pool their distribution resources and combine their product portfolios, allowing them to offer a much more efficient service to the customers.
In particular, Belvedere will gain a major foothold in the premium drinks market in the US, where CL operates via the Florida-based rum group Todhunter International. As well as Todhunter and Burn Stewart, CL Financial is also the main shareholder in Angostura Holdings, which makes rum as well as the eponymous bitters.
The combined Belvedere/Burn Stewart/Angostura/Todhunter group will have strong positions in rum, whisky and vodka, as well as a growing east European wine business. Belvedere is already the number two Polish vodka maker with a 17 per cent share, ahead of French rivals Remy Cointreau and Pernod Ricard, and also has operations in China, Japan, Greece, Mexico and Chile.