Solichnaya vodka set for auction, report
The vodka market is braced for another protracted takeover battle after press reports that the Russian owner of Stolichnaya is to auction the brand.
SPI could raise £1.5bn with the sale of the brand and distribution rights through investment bank Lehman Brothers.
Stolichnaya’s long-term health depends on finding new distribution internationally, as Pernod Ricard will relinquish its international rights to market the brand once it completes its acquisition of Absolut.
Competition considerations rule Pernod out of a deal to buy Stoli and Diageo has effectively ruled itself out of further vodka acquisitions after taking on Ketel One, leaving the also-rans on the Absolut takeover race as favourites to bid for the Russian brand.
Bacardi-Martin, Campari and Brown Forman are being tipped as possible suitors.
Stolichnaya was the subject of a high profile relaunch last year, refocusing the brand on its Soviet-era Russian heritage.
The UK is the third biggest export market for Stoli behind the US and Greece, with annual sales of just over 100,000 cases.