Two major Russian distillers have started to merge their distribution networks, according to local reports.

The Russian Wine and Vodka Company (RVVK), and OST-Alco are moving to create a "unified sales system", RVVK president Konstantin Popov was quoted as saying in Russian business daily Vedomosti yesterday (21 March).

The report said that the two groups had begun talks on a wider joint venture in December but both parties remained unsure how to proceed. RVVK and OST-Alco both control a 3.8% share of Russia's vodka market, Vedomosti said. If the two distillers were to merge, the enlarged group would be hot on the heels of St. Petersburg-based Veda, which controls just over 8% of the market.

RVVK began operations in 1993 when it became the Russian distributor for Finlandia vodka and has handled the former Allied Domecq portfolio in Russia. Its main brand is Flagship vodka.

OST-Alco produces vodka under the Stolnaya, Shustov and Bogorodskaya brands.