Central European Distribution Bids for Whitehall

Central European Distribution Corp. (CEDC), the Polish spirits company that agreed to buy a Russian liquor distributor in July, said it proposed buying a stake in Russian spirits company Whitehall Group.

Central European proposed acquiring a 49.9 percent voting stake and 75 percent economic interest in Whitehall in the form of cash, debt and shares, the Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania-based company said in a statement distributed today by PRNewswire. Terms of the proposal weren't disclosed.

Central European is expanding from Eastern Europe into Russia, where Whitehall distributes wines and other alcoholic drinks. Buying Whitehall would add annual profit of as much as 45 cents a share on a fully diluted basis, Central European said. Whitehall expects sales to grow this year approximately 15 percent to about $200 million.

``The premiumization trend in Russia for purchasing luxury brands continues to develop at a strong pace,'' Central European Chief Executive Officer William Carey said in the statement. ``The strong market position of Whitehall will allow the company to take advantage of the growing prosperity in Russia.''

BNP Paribas was Central European's financial adviser. Rothschild served as financial adviser to Whitehall Group.

Central European agreed to buy Parliament Vodka in July for an undisclosed amount of cash, debt and stock. It expects the acquisition to close during the first quarter.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joseph Galante in San Francisco at jgalante3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: JoAnne Norton at jnorton@bloomberg.net

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