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Russian Standard Enters International Wine Business With 70% Stake In Italy’s Gancia

December 15, 2011

Russian Standard, best known as Russia’s leading premium vodka marketer and a top Russian spirits importer and distributor, has entered the global wine business, purchasing a 70% stake in Canelli, Italy-based Gancia for an undisclosed sum. Russian Standard founder and chairman Roustam Tariko characterized the move as “the next step in our strategy to build a vertically-integrated company with a leading position in key beverage industry categories worldwide.”

Gancia, with annual revenues of €70 million ($91m), controls 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) of vineyards and produces over 25 million bottles across the sparkling wine, still wine and aperitif segments. Known for its eponymous sparkling wine brand, as well as its Pinot di Pinot and Gancia Cuvée Platinum labels, it’s present in 60 countries including Japan, Korea, China, France, the U.S., Belgium and Portugal. Gancia said that this year it “returned to positive margin and Gancia re-acquired leadership in the domestic market in terms of volumes sold.” It expects the deal with Russian Standard to help speed its goal of developing Gancia as a global premium brand.

The agreement will see Tariko become president of Gancia, taking over from current president Carlo Pavesio, who will remain on the board, along with Edoardo Vallarino Gancia, Lamberto Vallarino Gancia and Paolo Fontana (who will serve as CEO of the company moving forward). Russian Standard representatives will fill out the rest of the board.

In Russia, the deal will fill the void in sparkling wine and vermouth in the portfolio of Russian Standard’s importing and distributing arm, Roust Inc. That void was created earlier this year when former partner Gruppo Campari elected to purchase Moscow-based distributor Vasco, from which it’s building its own Russian distribution operation. Previously, Campari’s Cinzano sparkling wine and vermouth label, as well as Campari, Carolans and Irish Mist, were handled by Roust.

The play for Gancia follows Russian Standard’s acquisition of a 9.9% stake in rival vodka marketer and Russian distributor Central European Distribution Corp. (CEDC) earlier this month (Russian Standard has since proposed to buy another 20% of CEDC, an offer that was still being mulled at press time). The CEDC stake—like the new interest in Gancia—reflects Russian Standard’s belief in the growth potential of Russia’s imported wine market, the company told Shanken News Daily. (CEDC’s importing and distributing house in Russia, Whitehall, handles Concha y Toro, Constellation and Moët Hennessy wines among others.)


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