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Commenting on today's announcements on the possible future of rights to Stolichnaya vodka, Paul Clinton, Chief Executive Officer of Guinness UDV in North America said: "Stolichnaya has been an integral part of the UDV brand portfolio since the early 1990's. During this period, we have substantially increased brand volume, reversing years of decline.

"These significant strides have been attained in spite of a number of troubling and serious uncertainties surrounding this brand. Even now, ownership of the Stolichnaya trademark in Russia is a matter of substantial doubt. In recent weeks, the Russian government itself has challenged ownership of the brand," he said.

Clinton continued: "Equally troubling from a strategic business perspective is the escalating concern over a consistent supply of Stolichnaya. These supply uncertainties derive from Russian domestic disputes concerning ownership of the distilleries where the product is made.

"UDV has developed an impressive Stolichnaya business, but existing trademark ownership and supply questions have served to strengthen our long-held conviction that UDV's primary focus should always be squarely centred on its global priority brands."

He concluded: "As circumstances unfold, UDV will, however, maintain a vigilant and active interest in Stolichnaya since the trademark and supply issues may well ultimately be resolved in a manner that preserves the status quo."

Companies: Diageo, Allied Domecq

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