Russian Standard Corporation, the Russian distributor of Russian Standard and Imperia vodkas, has acquired a 70% stake in Italian wine-making company Gancia SpA.

The strategic investment is the next step in Russian Standard’s strategy in building vertically-integrated company, ensuring a leading position in many key categories of the beverage industry worldwide, Russian Standard Corp said in a statement.

Since its establishment in 1850, Gancia has become one of the leaders in sparkling wine and vermouth. With 2,000 hectares of controlled vineyards and 5 million kilograms of grapes vinified each year, Gancia produces over 25 million bottles of sparkling wines, wines and aperitifs annually. Its global presence includes over 60 key markets, including Portugal, Japan, Finland, France, Belgium, Korea, China and the US.

As a part of the agreement, beginning January 2012, Roust Inc will distribute and provide marketing support for Gancia’s sparkling wines and vermouths in Russia.

According to the deal, announced on 15 December at Canelli by Gancia President Carlo Pavesio and Russian Standard Founder Roustam Tariko, the Vallarino Gancia family will transfer 70% of its shares to the RSC Group.

Roustam Tariko will be appointed the new President of the company and has already selected a new Board of Directors including, in addition to representatives of RSC, Edoardo Vallarino Gancia, Lamberto Vallarino Gancia, Paolo Fontana and Carlo Pavesio. Paolo Fontana has been confirmed as CEO and Massimiliano Vallarino Gancia is the global brand ambassador.

Building Gancia as a leading brand globally

Commenting on the deal, Tariko said: “Our strategic long-term investment will provide Russian Standard with a unique opportunity to become one of the dominant players in sparkling wine and vermouth. We have a full-scale infrastructure, experience and sufficiently financial resources to build Gancia as a leading brand both in Russia and globally.”

He continued: “Gancia and Canelli are amongst the best ambassadors of Made in Italy all over the world. Italian style, the heritage of the brand and the specific nature of the territory are inestimable assets at international level.”

Pavesio said: “Roustam Tariko and the Russian Standard Group have recognised in Gancia one of the few Italian beverage brands with global characteristics; a factor that was decisive in the decision-making process leading to conclusion of the agreement.

“The presence of the family in the Board of Directors and in the shareholder structure guarantees continuity, confirming the Vallarino Gancia family’s ability to interpret changes in a world in which globalisation has no bounds.”

Fontana noted that the growth strategy was to make Gancia a premium brand worldwide in its category.

In 2010/11, Gancia returned to a positive margin, with sales of more than €70 million. In 2011, the group continued its growth trend both abroad and on the Italian market where it re-acquired leadership in terms of volumes sold, he said.

Russian Standard has a premium positioning and is expanding at a fast pace towards new global markets, Gancia’s main growth target, added Fontana.

About Russian Standard Corporation

Russian Standard Corporation is one of Russia’s largest and most successful private companies working in the consumer market. Total assets of Russian Standard exceed US$5 billion. Some 19,000 employees work in offices throughout Russia, the US, UK and France. Russian Standard Vodka is the country’s number one premium vodka and Russia’s only global vodka brand, with distribution in more than 75 export markets and sales of over 2.5 million nine-litre cases.

About Roust Inc

Roust Inc is one of the leading distributors of premium spirits brands in Russia, including Rémy Martin, Cointreau, Piper Heidsieck, Metaxa, St Remy, Whyte & Mackay, Dalmore, Isle of Jura Offley, Molinari and Jagermeister.

About Gancia

F.lli Gancia & C SpA, founded in 1850 by Carlo Gancia – who created the first Italian sparkling wine – is an international leader in the production sparkling wine and vermouth. With 2,000 hectares of vineyards, 5 million kilograms of grapes vinified, Gancia produces around 25 million bottles of sparkling wine, wines and aperitifs each year. The company, based in Canelli (Asti), has 100 employees, annual sales of around €70 million and is present in more than 60 countries, including Japan, Korea, China, France, the US, Belgium and Portugal.

In 2000, the company celebrated its 150th anniversary. Its most famous brands include: Gancia, particularly strong in the area of aromatic sparkling wines; Pinot di Pinot, a leading single-vine dry sparkling wine; Gancia Cuvée Platinum, an exclusive line; and sparkling wines, which are strong in the new Classical Method sector.