Coca-Cola HBC AG said that it plans to buy Finlandia vodka brand owner Brown-Forman Finland Oy from Brown-Forman Netherlands BV for $220 million (€201.2 million), as the bottler expands its premium spirits business.
Finlandia, established in 1970, is a leading vodka brand in Central and Eastern Europe, Coca-Cola HBC said in a statement.
The bottler said the acquisition was being done through its wholly owned unit CC Beverages Holdings II BV and that deal completion was expected in the second half of 2023.
'Regionally Relevant Opportunity'
"Having been associated with the distribution of Finlandia for 17 years in several markets, we are excited by this unique and regionally relevant opportunity that will support the acceleration of our on-premise business across more of our markets," commented Zoran Bogdanovic, CEO of Coca-Cola HBC.
Bogdanovic added that the complementary portfolios of both Coca-Cola HBC and Brown-Forman Finland creates an opportunity to develop products for a "broad range of 24/7 consumption occasions, particularly socialising moments.
"We view this as an attractive investment and a natural evolution of our role as one of Finlandia's distribution partners, further attesting to the strength of our time-tested and wide-ranging partnership with Brown-Forman. We appreciate the trust placed in us and look forward to creating more value for our partners and customers by capturing new opportunities with our well-rounded beverage portfolio."
Finlandia boasts annual volumes of 2.7 million nine-litre cases globally. The deal is subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, Coca-Cola HBC said.
Lawson Whiting, chief executive of Brown-Forman, added that the group was "pleased to pass on the ownership torch of Finlandia to Coca-Cola HBC, who has proven to be a strong and reliable partner to our brands for more than 17 years."
Elsewhere, Anora, which is the global distiller and bottler of Finlandia vodka, and is also the distributor of Finlandia vodka in Finland, Sweden and Norway, said that the long-term collaboration it had with Brown-Forman will now transfer to Coca-Cola HBC.
Finlandia was sold by former owner Altia – which has since been rebranded to Anora – to Brown-Forman in multiple phases between 2000 and 2004.
”Finlandia vodka, produced by Anora from the pure natural ingredients of Finnish barley and water, is an important part of Anora’s history and heritage, first as brand owner and later as the producer for global markets pursuant to a strategic partnership with Brown-Forman," commented Pekka Tennilä, CEO of Anora Group.
"We look forward to continuing and deepening the strategic partnership with Coca-Cola HBC."