Houlihan hired to sell sparkling liqueur brand Nuvo - source

LONDON, July 8 Mon Jul 8, 2013 1:02pm EDT

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LONDON, July 8 (Reuters) - Investment bank Houlihan Lokey has been hired to sell Nuvo, a sparkling liqueur brand that mixes French vodka, white wine and fruit flavours, in a deal that could fetch $50 million, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.

The brand, which was launched in 2007 by New York entrepreneur Raphael Yakoby, sold 212,000 9-litre cases in the year to December 2012, with 59 percent of sales in North America, its main market followed by Latin America.

Its contribution after advertising and promotion (CAPP), the most commonly used measure to value brands, was $7.6 million in 2012 on gross profit of $19.6 million.

The pink liqueur has featured in hip hop videos by artists including Ludacris and Jamie Foxx and was the third largest imported liqueur brand in the United States in 2012, according to International Wine & Spirit Research (IWSR).

Prospective buyers, including spirits companies, received information on the sale on Monday, the source said. It is likely to go to a trade buyer which already has a distribution network in place to market the brand.

Bigger drinks companies are often attracted to boutique brands that they can help grow as well as those targeted at niche markets.

Drinks giant Diageo previously owned a 70 percent stake in the joint venture that owns Nuvo, London Group, which is now controlled by Yakoby, although Diageo still holds a financial interest in the brand.

Bombay Gin owner Bacardi earlier in 2013 acquired elderflower liqueur St-Germain, with plans to turn it into a international brand.

Yakoby also created Hypnotiq in 2001, a pale blue liqueur made from vodka, cognac and juices, which he sold two years later to Heaven Hill Distilleries for $60 million.

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