Sweden's wine and spirit giant Vin & Sprit (V&S) has tightened its grip on the Nordic wine market by acquiring an initial stake in Finland's Marli Group.

V&S has bought approximately one third of the company's shares for an undisclosed sum, with the intention of acquiring the remaining shares from the principal owner, Oy Rettig AB next year.

"We have decided to do the deal in two stages because we want the principal owner to run the company while the transition takes place. It will make the deal smoother," said  V&S spokeswoman, Margareta Nystrom.

Marli Group comprises the Finnish companies Oy Scanfrentz AB and Oy Kjaer & Sommerfeldt AB, which have operations in Lappeenranta, Turku and Helsinki. In Denmark, the acquisition includes Vingaarden A/S, a wine producer, importer and retailer which employs 190 staff

One of Sweden's largest wine importers, Gote Andersson AB, is also included. Overall V&S will add 40m litres of alcohol to V&S's existing 130m litres sold each year.  Analysts believe the acquisition allows V&S to capture a larger share of the growing wine market in the Nordic region. More young people are turning to wine over traditional beer and spirits for health reasons and consumption has steadily risen for some years now.

The company said the acquisition is in line with V&S strategy to become the leading operator of alcoholic beverages in the Nordic region, reinforced last year with its acquisition of Denmark's largest spirits company, Danisco Distillers.

Nystrom said it was too early to say whether Marli would be fully-integrated into the V&S group or remain relatively independent like Danisco. She also said Oy Rettig's management team would remain unchanged for the interim but a new board would be announced at a later date, which will include V&S executives.

Elliot Lane

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