VIJAY MALLYA’S UNITED SPIRITS BUYS US VODKA COMPANY FOR $3 M

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VIJAY Mallya-led United Spirits (USL), the third largest global liquor marketer by volume, is acquiring Liquidity Inc, a US-based maker of specialty vodkas. The deal-size for the start-up company is $3-million.

Delaware-based Liquidity Inc produces specialty brands like Pinky Vodka and Marakesh, a vodka liqueur. “We are acquiring this drinks development company with brands positioned in the super premium category,” UB Group CFO & president Ravi Nedungadi said.

The acquisition of Liquidity Inc was effected through USL’s Cyprus-based subsidiary-Zelinka. The specialty vodka brand Pinky is currently in the test-marketing stage across the US and UK. ‘Positioned as the world’s most beautiful vodka’, this is said to be the first vodka made-ever targetted at the women consumer. This vodka made from flowers comes handy for bartenders in mixing fruity cocktails. Post acquisition this vodka will also hit India as well as the global travel trade shortly.

However, USL declined to divulge the pricing strategy for Pinky vodka stating that it was still in the test marketing stage. “The company Liquidity Inc is also looking at developing other drinks and beverages and Marakesh Vodka Liqueur will follow Pinky into the market. The highly regarded team of the acquired company will stay on even after the acquisition,” said, USL CFO T A Murali.
This deal also fills a lacunae in UB’s brand stable which hitherto lacked a premium vodka label. The super premium to luxury category has seen a lot of traction globally with brands like Grey Goose, Belvedere and 42 Below gaining worldwide prominence in recent times.

Currently USL’s vodka portfolio include the White Mischief and Romanov vodka in the regular priced category while Vladivar, which came through the Whyte & Mackay acquisition, is positioned in the semipremium category. USL, with annualised volume sales of 75 million cases, follows Diageo and Pernod Ricard as the world’s third largest drinks company at the moment. India’s vodka market is estimated to be growing at 20-25% and the latest acquisition could help UB face the challenge from global peers at the top end.

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