Unit of Alfa Group interested in restructuring vodka maker CEDC

March 1 Fri Mar 1, 2013 7:40pm EST

March 1 (Reuters) - A unit of Russia's Alfa Group is interested in putting together a consortium to restructure one of the world's largest vodka producers, Central European Distribution Corp, according to a U.S. securities filing.

The president of A1, Alfa Group's venture capital unit, reportedly wrote to the committee of holders of CEDC's notes that mature in 2016 to say it wanted to assemble a group to invest up to $250 million to restructure CEDC, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

The SEC filing was made by Mark Kaufman of Monaco, CEDC's second-largest shareholder. A1 is one of Russia's largest investment groups. Kaufman was commenting on the letter from A1. The letter was not included in the filing with the SEC.

A1, and attorneys for the committee and CEDC did not reply to a request for comment. Kaufman's attorney declined to comment.

CEDC, with headquarters in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, and Warsaw, Poland, has been rocked by problems with its financial reporting, the resignation of its chief executive and recent battles with shareholders over control of the company.

Nasdaq-listed stock of the company, which has a leading share of the vodka markets in Russia, Hungary and Poland, has plummeted to around 60 cents from more than $70 in 2008.

The company has warned it may file for bankruptcy. It has $258 million in convertible notes that mature on March 15, but has less than $70 million available in cash and credit lines to meet that obligation.

In Kaufman's filing, he said A1 expressed an interest in putting together a consortium that would include Kaufman and CEDC's chairman, Roustam Tariko, who is also a major investor in the vodka producer.

CEDC has proposed a bond exchange to cut its debt by $750 million, and it said if the exchange fails to garner the necessary support of holders of 95 percent of its notes it will file for bankruptcy.

Kaufman and Tariko have also outlined their own proposals to cut the company's debt.

CEDC said in a proxy on Thursday that it had received interest from "a significant third party group" about a potential investment.

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