November 29, 2011 / 10:46 AM / 6 years ago

Russian Standard Vodka buys stake in rival CEDC

MOSCOW, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Vodka producer Russian Standard Vodka, owned by billionaire Roustam Tariko, has bought a 9.9 percent stake in Central European Distribution Corp , a Polish rival which has lost more than 80 percent of its market value this year.

CEDC, which holds a portfolio of some well known brands on the Russian and Polish markets such as Absolwent and Parliament, has twice slashed its outlook this year.

Its operations are in "dire straits, especially in Russia", according to a research note published in October by Renaissance Capital. Analysts have said it could be ripe for a takeover or breakup.

The company's shares closed on Nasdaq at $3.40, after stating the year at $23.36.

The 7.2 million shares acquired by Russian Standard were bought as a "strategic investment" between Nov. 15 and Nov. 21, according to a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Monday.

According to the filing, Russian Standard may propose to CEDC that it wants to buy more shares or abandon its interest.

Tariko, who has a fortune estimated at $1.9 billion by Forbes magazine, also founded bank Russian Standard, a leading consumer lender. In addition, he owns beauty pageant Miss Russia according to a recent Financial Times article.

In August, private investor Mark Kaufman reported a 9.6 percent stake in CEDC.

CEDC said it will soon issue a statement. Russian Vodka was not immediately available for comment.

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