It seems that life is about to get a bit more interesting for Central European Distribution
Not only has the company recently signed a definitive agreement to purchase the Bols distillery for $270 million, but it also appears to have reached an agreement with the Polish government for the privatization of Polmos Bialystok for somewhere beyond $300 million.
As readers might recall, it hasn't been all roses for the company to get to this point. The Polish government originally preferred to go with Sobieski Distribution, but when that deal fell apart, Central European Distribution got a second chance. And the company certainly made the most of it.
While the deal is not yet signed, sealed, and delivered, it looks as if the terms have been ironed out. Importantly, the company has reached an agreement with the Polmos unions on a "social package" that proved to be a sticking point with the Sobieski deal.
Under this agreement, Central European Distribution will make certain employment guarantees to workers and pay them a bonus as well. The company did not announce specifics, but rumors point to a guarantee period of roughly one year and a bonus of roughly 10 months' pay.
These two agreements will certainly be transformative for the company. Once the deals are done, it will control about one-third of Poland's vodka market and have some inroads into the European and Russian vodka markets as well. What's more, both distillers produced more revenue in 2004 than Central European did ($650 million for Bols, $709 million for Polmos, and $581 million for CEDC) and more net income as well ($29 million, $27 million, and $22 million, respectively).
The financing for these deals will also be transformative. After the Bols acquisition, Remy Cointreau and Takirra Investment will both be meaningful owners of CEDC stock and have a place on the board. In the case of the Polmos acquisition, the company will need to raise money in an equity offering, and that could increase the shares outstanding by almost 20%.
I was a fan of this company before these deals, and I think I will remain so once the deals are closed. Of course, the company is facing some serious new challenges in raising a chunk of money, integrating two large new businesses, and going into an entirely different line of business. But challenges are what keep quality managers on the ball, and I believe Central European's management team is up to the task.
Those who don't already own the stock might want to wait for the dust to settle, but current shareholders may want to raise a glass to management for transforming the business so dramatically in such a short span of time.
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Fool contributor Stephen Simpson has no financial interest in any stocks mentioned.