FINLAND: Brown-Forman pays $83m for slice of Finlandia

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As announced yesterday, US-based Brown-Forman Corporation has added the premium vodka, Finlandia, to its portfolio, in a joint venture with the Finnish alcohol conglomerate, Altia Group.

The new company will be called Finlandia Vodka Worldwide Ltd. (FVW), with Altia Group holding a 55% stake and Brown-Forman the remaining 45% at a cost of FIM 522m ($83m). FVW will officially launch as an Altia subsidiary on 1 August 2000.

It will take control of the worldwide marketing rights for the Finlandia brand and will employ Brown-Forman as Finlandia's distributor in all countries outside of Finland, the Nordic and Baltic states, the Czech Republic and Poland. Brown-Forman has been the brand's distributor in the US since 1996.

Altia owns Primalco, the producer of Finlandia, which will continue to make the brand and sell it to FVW under a long-term supply contract. Under the agreement Altia has the right to sell its remaining 55% interest in FVW to Brown-Forman in the future.

Altia's president and CEO, Veikko Kasurinen said: "The incorporation of Finlandia vodka is part of the process of implementing Altia Group's strategy and developing its group and ownership structure…Our joint venture with Brown-Forman, the world's ninth biggest alcoholic beverage company, opens opportunities for us to strengthen Finlandia Vodka's distribution by utilising our partner's sales and distribution network and knowledge."

The FVW board will include Veikko Kasurinen, president and CEO of Altia; Ossi Loikkanen, Altia's CFO; and Leif Ekstrom, an Altia director. The US contingent will be Michael V. Cheek, president of B-F Beverages Worldwide North America Group, and Don Berg, president of B-F Beverages Worldwide Advancing Markets Group.

The new group will be structured as below:

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Companies: Brown-Forman

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