Trio of firms seal Russian vodka deal

A trio of US firms have been handed roles as UK private equity house Lion Capital buys Russia’s biggest vodka brand in a deal worth $600m (£303m).

Weil Gotshal is representing Lion Capital, with London-based corporate partner Ian Hamilton working alongside Michael Francies and tax partner Sarah Priestley.

Russian Alcohol, which makes Green Mark Vodka, instructed Hogan & Hartson and Paris corporate partner Xenia Legendre.

The Central European Distribution Company (CEDC), which provided $156.5m (£79.04m) of equity as well as debt finance for the deal, turned to Dewey & LeBoeuf M&A partner Stephen Horvath.

With net sales of $500m (£253m) a year, Russian Alcohol has tapped into the country’s growing drinks market to become the world’s third-largest vodka producer.

Weil Gotshal partner Hamilton said: “The alcohol market in Russia is very fast growing, and not just in vodka.

“Branded businesses are doing fantastically well in those emerging markets. People are no longer content with the really cheap stuff.”

The firm’s relationship with Lion Capital dates back to the days of the Hicks Muse Europe Fund, which spawned Lion Capital in 2004.

Advising bank Goldman Sachs was advised by Jones Day.