MOSCOW, March 5 Stolichnaya Vodka-owner SPI
Group said on Tuesday it was holding talks with Russian
financial interests regarding Poland's indebted Central European
Distribution Corp, one of the world's largest vodka
Nasdaq-listed CEDC's shares have plunged by over 80 percent
so far this year to $0.67, hit by financial problems, the
resignation of its chief executive and recent battles with
shareholders over control of the company.
The most pressing problem for CEDC, which makes Absolwent
and Parliament vodka, is that it has $258 million in convertible
loan notes maturing on March 15.
On Tuesday, a the A1 investment arm of Russia's Alfa Group
and CEDC shareholder Mark Kaufman presented a restructuring plan
to CEDC's board, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities
and Exchange Commission.
The plan proposes that a consortium would invest $225
million in exchange for 85 percent of the equity in a
reorganized CEDC. The plan would be implemented through a
pre-arranged bankruptcy filing, according to the filing.
Russian billionaire and CEDC chairman Roustam Tariko holds a
20.2 percent stake via his Moscow-based vodka to financial
services conglomerate Russian Standard Corporation, according to
Thomson Reuters data, while Kaufman is CEDC's second-biggest
shareholder with 9.22 percent.
SPI, which holds 2013 and 2016 loan notes in CEDC, said on
Tuesday it has appointed Nomura Co Ltd to "evaluate
alternatives" with regards to CEDC, but did not elaborate on
what those alternatives were.
"We are carefully observing the situation around CEDC," said
Val Mendeleev, chief executive of SPI in an emailed statement.
"We have already begun preliminary discussions with a few strong
financial players in Russia who could be interested in
considering the CEDC business together with us."
A representative for SPI declined to comment further and no
one at SPI's office in Luxembourg had any immediate comment. It
was not immediately clear whether SPI and Tariko were acting
together in a possible debt-for-equity swap.
CEDC, which has a leading share of the vodka markets in
Russia, Hungary and Poland, said in a filing that it was
reviewing a proposal from Tariko and certain beneficial owners
of its notes, but these were not identified.