Brown-Forman Acquiring Remaining Interest in Finlandia Vodka
Louisville, KY, November 22, 2004 — Brown-Forman Corporation announced today that it has reached agreement with the Altia Corporation of Finland (Altia) to acquire the remaining 20% of the capital stock of Finlandia Vodka Worldwide Ltd. (FVW) for €46.8 million. Brown-Forman and Altia have jointly owned FVW since 2000. Finlandia Vodka is a premium vodka from Finland and is sold in more than 100 countries around the world.
Brown-Forman acquired 45% of FVW in 2000 and an additional 35% in 2002. The 2002 acquisition agreement granted Altia an option to require Brown-Forman to buy its remaining interest in FVW during a two-year window beginning December 31, 2004. The new transaction reflects Altia’s exercise of that option, and will give Brown-Forman 100% ownership of FVW. Closing is expected to occur on or before December 31, 2004. Altia, the leading Finnish wine and spirits company, will continue to produce the highly acclaimed vodka as exclusive supplier of Finlandia to Brown-Forman.
Brown-Forman has marketed and sold Finlandia Vodka for Altia in the United States since 1996. After it acquired a majority equity interest in 2003, Brown-Forman assumed distribution and marketing responsibilities for the brand in almost all global markets as well.
“Finlandia is one of the largest premium vodka brands in the world, and holds a leadership position in several markets,” said Paul Varga, CEO of Brown-Forman Beverages. “Premium vodka continues to be an exciting and competitive segment for our industry, and we believe the brand has excellent opportunities for profitable growth.”
Brown-Forman Corporation is a diversified producer and marketer of fine quality consumer products, including Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia Vodka, Canadian Mist, Fetzer Wines, Korbel California Champagnes, Lenox, Dansk, and Gorham tableware and giftware and Hartmann Luggage.
Important Information on Forward-Looking Statements:
This news release contains statements, estimates, or projections that constitute “forward-looking statements” as defined under U.S. federal securities laws. Generally, the words “expect,” “believe,” “intend,” “estimate,” “will,” “anticipate,” and “project,” and similar expressions identify a forward-looking statement, which speaks only as of the date the statement is made. Except as required by law, we do not intend to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.
We believe that the expectations and assumptions with respect to our forward-looking statements are reasonable. But by their nature, forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that in some cases are out of our control. In particular, with respect to our expectations for the future performance of the Finlandia Vodka brand, several important factors could cause our actual results to differ materially from Brown-Forman’s historical experience or our present expectations, including but not limited to:
- changes in general economic conditions, particularly in the United States where we earn the majority of our profits;
- a strengthening U.S. dollar against foreign currencies;
- reduced bar, restaurant, hotel and travel business in wake of other terrorist attacks, such as occurred on 9/11;
- developments in the class action lawsuits filed against Brown-Forman and other spirits, beer and wine manufacturers alleging that our advertising causes illegal consumption of alcohol by those under the legal drinking age, or other attempts to limit alcohol marketing, through either litigation or regulation;
- a dramatic change in consumer preferences, social trends or cultural trends that results in the reduced consumption of this premium spirits brand;
- tax increases, whether at the federal or state or local level, in the U.S. or overseas.