FINLAND: Finlandia producer remains in state hands
Altia, the Finnish producer of Finlandia Vodka is to remain a state-owned operation following the failure by its government to sell a minority stake.
The Finnish government hit a stumbling block over the sale when parliament blocked a majority sale last year, after pressure groups' opposed the sale of state assets abroad.
The government said efforts to sell up to 49.9% percent of Altia failed because suitable beverage companies were unwilling to take a minority stake. A spokesman added that other potential bidders, including venture capitalists, had proved unsuitable.
"To a large extent, the important point is that we had so little to sell," said the Trade and Industry Ministry's industrial counsellor, Arto Honkaniemi. "Venture capital companies would not bring the know-how we were looking for."
Altia had hoped that the sale of part of its stock would allow it more flexibility and the investment by an international player would have been welcomed in the absence of major investments by the state.
Altia's sales rose 7.2% to €226m (US$195m) last year, with the operating result more than doubling to €27.5m.
Finland has a state monopoly on the sale of beverages with more than around 4.5% alcohol content. It also controls much of the country's alcohol production, including Finlandia Vodka.
Altia owns 55% of Finlandia Vodka. The rest is owned by the US group Brown-Forman.
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