Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams is the Markets and Banking reporter for the New Zealand Herald

NZ liquor firm sale tipped within month

VnC Cocktails' Shane McKillen says a confidentiality agreement means the sale price cannot yet be disclosed. Photo / Dean Purcell
VnC Cocktails' Shane McKillen says a confidentiality agreement means the sale price cannot yet be disclosed. Photo / Dean Purcell

The boss of a local liquor firm engaged in acquisition talks with a United States company says the deal should be sealed within the next 30 days.

New York-based Panache Beverages is looking to purchase Auckland's VnC Cocktails, which was established in 2007 by Shane McKillen, one of the founding shareholders of 42 Below vodka.

But McKillen, who also represented the Kiwi vodka brand in the United States before its $138 million sale to Bacardi in 2006, says a confidentiality agreement means the acquisition price cannot yet be disclosed.

VnC manufactures ready-to-drink cocktails - natural fruit combined with vodka or tequila - in Tauranga at the former Pinto juice plant.

The company bought the juice plant in 2009 and spent $800,000 upgrading it.

Panache was established by McKillen and James Dale, another Kiwi founding shareholder of 42 Below, in 2004.

It operated as the exclusive US importer of the New Zealand vodka brand until its sale to Bacardi.

McKillen's involvement with Panache ended after 42 Below was sold and he no longer holds shares in the firm, which is listed on New York's OTC Markets exchange, an alternative trading system.

Panache is involved in the development, sales and marketing ofspirits.

Its three brands are Wodka Vodka, Alchemia Infused Vodka and Alibi American Whiskey.

McKillen said that after the acquisition, which would require approval from New Zealand's Overseas Investment Office, Panache and VnC would benefit from combined distribution channels and "synergies in manufacturing".

Last year McKillen said he had exploited his distribution networks from his days with 42 Below to establish VnC in 30 markets around the globe.

VnC exported 120,000 cases of product in the 12 months to March 2011, valued at about $10 million.

- NZ Herald

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