Stock Spirits eyes M&A deals in Central Europe

Stock Spirits eyes M&A deals in Central Europe

Stock Spirits Group has not given up on acquisition targets in Central and Eastern Europe, even though its private equity owner is believed to be considering selling the business.

Stock's CEO, Chris Heath, said that the group still has "a number of potential targets" that would help it to expand its presence in the Central and Eastern Europe region.

"We're still very interested in those businesses, when they're available at the right price," Heath told journalists at a briefing in London yesterday (24 February). "When we get to an agreement, we'll make those acquisitions, but we won't overpay," he added.

Stock Spirits has built strong positions in several Central European markets, including Poland and Czech Republic, in the last couple of years. Yet, the future of the company is uncertain. Owner Oaktree Capital Management is conducting a strategic review of the business, which, it is understood, could either lead to a sale or a stock market flotation.

An update on the situation is not expected for at least another month. Stock has yet to release financial results for 2010, but Heath said that the company has achieved double-digit growth in both volume sales and profits over the year.

In terms of acquisition targets, Stock is only concerned with companies that would give it either a strong number two or number one position in a market, according to Heath.

Last year, the company walked away from talks with Ukrainian vodka giant Nemiroff.

However, during yesterday's briefing, Heath appeared to leave the door ajar for a potential deal further down the line. "We do like the look of the business, we just couldn't agree on the price," he said.