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UK: Stock Spirits turns predator with refinancing deal

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Stock Spirits has morphed from potential prey to predator in the acquisitions arena following a deal to refinance its bank facilities.

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Stock said late last week that it has agreed a new EUR220m (US$308m) financing plan with its major lenders. The plan includes EUR170m of loans and a EUR50m revolving credit facility, which will expire in 2017 and 2018, respectively.

After Stock's private equity owner, Oaktree Capital, decided to retain ownership of the group earlier this year, Stock is once again eyeing potential acquisitions of its own. The revolving credit facility includes funding available for the company to pursue takeovers.

Stock's CEO, Chris Heath, said: “These new facilities will support our long-term organic growth strategy in Central Europe, and will also enable us to pursue complementary acquisition opportunities as and when they arise.” 

At the start of 2011, Heath told journalists that the group had "a number of potential targets" in mind. However, this became overshadowed by Oaktree Capital's strategic review of its ownership of the Czysta de Luxe vodka producer.

During that period, Diageo briefly showed interest in buying Stock, primarily for its strong distribution platforms in Central & Eastern Europe. Stock claims to be the number one spirits group by volume in Poland and Czech.


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