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Report: Brown-Forman Eyeing Sale Of Finlandia

May 13, 2016

Brown-Forman is exploring a sale of Finlandia vodka, according to Bloomberg. The news service, which sources “people close to the matter,” says the Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown-Forman is considering the sell-off in order to sharpen its focus on its whisk(e)y business, led by Jack Daniel’s. Earlier this year, Brown-Forman sold Southern Comfort and Tuaca to Sazerac Co. for $544 million. Then, in April, Brown-Forman acquired Scotch player BenRiach Distillery Co. for $416 million. Brown-Forman declined to comment on the sale.

Brown-Forman acquired Finlandia from Finland’s government-controlled Altia Corp. in several phases, obtaining full ownership in 2004. In total, it paid somewhere north of $200 million for the vodka brand. Despite the U.S. vodka boom, the Finnish brand never took off in the market. When Brown-Forman purchased Finlandia, it sold around 350,000 cases annually in the U.S. In recent years, it’s hovered around 250,000 cases, according to Impact Databank—even as the overall U.S. vodka market expanded by roughly 50% over the past decade. Finlandia currently does less than 10% of its business in the U.S. It’s a powerhouse in Central and Eastern Europe, with much of its 3 million cases in yearly sales occurring there—particularly in Poland, where it’s been a leading vodka brand. However, Finlandia has struggled in that market over the past few years.

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