Bacardi has announced that it is to acquire the New Zealand spirits company 42 Below in an all-cash deal valuing the company at NZ138m (US$91m).

The Bermuda-based spirits giant will be acquiring the 42 Below brands, which include four flavoured vodkas - Manuka Honey, Kiwifruit, Feijoa and Passionfruit - along with the newly developed products South Gin, Stil Vodka, Seven Tiki White Rum, Tahiti Dark Rum and 420 spring water.

Bacardi said it had the support of the founding shareholders, major shareholders and employees of 42 Below, adding that several of those shareholders had entered lock-in agreements to accept the Bacardi offer in respect of their combined holding of 53.2% of 42 Below. Bacardi expects to launch a formal takeover offer in the coming weeks in accordance with the New Zealand Stock Exchange rules.

"Bacardi is acquiring young premium brands in 42 Below," said Bacardi president and CEO Andreas Gembler. "With substantial investment by our company, 42 Below brands show long-term potential in the global spirits industry with a particular focus on the growing Asia Pacific markets."

Launched in 1998, the 42 Below premium vodka brand has shown strong volume growth. Bacardi said the brand has an innovative and irreverent image and had earned a strong reputation for authentic New Zealand purity, quality and exceptional taste.

The New Zealand company is listed on the New Zealand Stock Exchange and the brand is currently distributed in more than 25 countries. In fact, 42 Below was judged to be New Zealand's fastest growing exporter, fastest growing listed company and fastest growing company overall by Deloitte in its 2005 Fast 50 study.

"This is a great development," said 42 Below's executive chairman Grant Baker. "We believe Bacardi, known for its track record in growing acquired brands and substantially investing behind them, is the best company to grow our products in the global spirits market."