Vodka manufacturer Stock Spirits has snapped up Italian grappa giant Distillerie Franciacorta in a deal worth €26.5m (£23.2m), the company said today.
The London-listed drinks firm will take over Distillerie Franciacorta’s spirits and liqueurs business for €23.5m and pay a further €3m for land, with plans to build a new production facility.
Stock Spirits, which operates largely in the eastern European market, will also acquire the Italian company’s wine brands.
The Lombardy-based spirits company Distillerie Franciacorta specialises in grappa, which is Italy’s fourth largest spirits category, as well as the region’s sparkling wine.
Shares in Stock Spirits were up almost 2.5 per cent this morning.
Stock Spirits chief executive Mirek Stachowicz said: “This is our first step in pursuing in-market consolidation opportunities in Italy, and Distillerie Franciacorta will strengthen our position in what is a fragmented but highly attractive market for us.
“It should also be seen as a clear reflection of our willingness to undertake value-creating mergers and acquisitions as part of our four-pillar growth strategy.”
The move comes just days after a major Stock Spirits shareholder launched an attack on the company’s board over low returns.
Portuguese investor Luis Amaral, whose firm Western Gate holds a 10 per cent stake in the business, called on fellow shareholders to oust chairman David Maloney and senior director John Nicolson.
Western Gate also criticised the board’s failure to offer a clear growth strategy and carry out acquisitions, and the investment firm today issued a further statement insisting the takeover is “immaterial to the company’s balance sheet”.
“This simply does not go far enough and is another example of Stock Spirits only acting under pressure from shareholders,” it said.
But Stock Spirits rebutted the claim. “This is an opportunity that we have been looking at for more than a year now, and discussions have taken place over many months,” the company said.
“It has nothing to do with shareholder pressure and everything to do with being a truly compelling opportunity that has clear and attractive synergies with our existing Italian operations.”