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POLAND: Germany's Eckes eyes up Wyborowa distiller

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German spirits distributor Eckes is a front runner to buy one of Poland's largest vodka producers and maker of the Wyborowa brand, according to Polish press reports.Polmos Poznan is expected to be privatised by the end of this year, and, according to Poznan's president Janusz Michalski, the distillery needs a branch investor who will invest in marketing and promoting Poznan vodka brands.Eckes is reportedly looking to acquire a 10% share of the Polish vodka market. It is particularly interested in two brands of Polish vodka, including Wyborowa. It has also been reported to have it sights on Zubrowka, the popular bison grass brand.Poznan has a 18% share of the Polish vodka market while Wyborowa makes up 90% of its export revenues.However, the ownership of vodka export rights for investors in Polish distilleries is still unclear. The controversial law passed by the Polish parliament that will confiscate from Agros (the once state-owned export business) the export rights to many Polish vodkas, including Wyborowa, and hand them back to the producers, has been referred to the Constitutional Court.Many industry followers including Agros controller Pernod Ricard view the law as illegal.In the meantime the privatisation of Poland's vodka industry goes on. Poznan was put on the market last week. The Ministry of Treasury invited potential bidders to negotiations concerning the purchase of over 51% of the business.Chris Brook-Carter


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