Could Stock Spirits be about to change hands?

Could Stock Spirits be about to change hands?

Oaktree Capital is approaching a sale of its Stocks Spirits division, according to reports.

The private equity group, which considered both a sale and an IPO two years ago, is in exclusive talks with Pamplona Capital Management about divesting the spirits company, which dominates Central and Eastern Europe. Sky News reported earlier today (21 January) that Pamplona could pay up to EUR700m (US$932.5m) for Stock, which claims to be the number one spirits group by volume in both Poland and Czech.

Pamplona is backed by Alfa Group, a company headed by Mikhail Fridman, according to Sky News. The Russian businessman is a member of the AAR alliance, which last year ended its oil JV with BP in Russia by selling out to Rosneft, it was reported.

Sky did not cite specific sources in its report. No-one at Stock Spirits was immediately available for comment when contacted by just-drinks this morning.

In June 2011, Oaktree dropped its plans to launch an IPO for Stock. The firm had also flirted briefly with Diageo, but chose instead to maintain its existing ownership structure.

US-based Oaktree set up Stock Spirits after it bought Polish distiller Polmos Lublin in 2006 and Stock Plzen in Czech a year later. In an interview with just-drinks in 2010, Stock’s CEO, Chris Heath said that Oaktree’s plan would be to eventually either sell off or float the division. “That is the way private equity works,” he said at the time.

Only last month, the division bought Slovak spirits producer Imperator and ethanol manufacturing business Novel Ferm.