Ratos to buy Norwegian Arcus-Gruppen


Ratos has today concluded an agreement to acquire 85% of Norway's leading supplier of wine and spirits, Arcus-Gruppen. Arcus-Gruppen's best known brands include Linie Aquavit, Løiten, Braastad Cognac and Vikingfjord Vodka. Co-investors are one of the company's previous owners HOFF Norske Potetindustrier ("HOFF") with nearly 10% and management with just over 5%. Ratos's investment amounts to NOK 434 million (approx. SEK 520 million).
Arcus-Gruppen was formed in 1996 on the initiative of the Norwegian government. The Group then took over production, import/export and national distribution of wine and spirits from the state-owned Vinmonopolet. In 1998 the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget) decided that Arcus-Gruppen should be privatised and later the state sold the company to Sucra AS, a consortium formed by Jensen Invest with Danish majority owners, Berentzen Gruppe of Germany and a number of small Norwegian investors. One of these Norwegian investors is HOFF which originated in the Norwegian Distillers Association which was formed in 1879 to organise the distillery activities of Norwegian farmers. HOFF will remain as an owner and even increase its stake in conjunction with today's deal.
Today operations are divided into three business units: Arcus Beverages, Vectura and Arcus Kjemi. The largest business, Arcus Beverages, produces, imports, bottles, markets and sells wine and spirits. The unit accounts for almost 40% of Vinmonopolet's purchases of spirits and a corresponding proportion of its wines of 14%. In 2004, Arcus Beverages sold 6.8 million litres of spirits and 8.1 million litres of wine, of which exports accounted for 3.1 million litres of wine and spirits. Vectura is Norway's leading logistics company for alcoholic beverages while Arcus Kjemi manufactures, imports and sells alcohol- and isopropanol-based products in Norway and Sweden. 
In 2004 Arcus-Gruppen's sales amounted to NOK 2,075 million excluding taxes and charges and the Group posted an EBITA of NOK 77 million. Since its privatisation, Arcus-Gruppen's revenues have risen by 17% while the market as a whole has grown by just over 8%. The gross margin has improved continuously and now amounts to just over 50%. Arcus-Gruppen has a total of approximately 560 employees. The company's largest production plant is located central Oslo. In addition, there are production plants in Hamar and Halden. The  Enterprise Value for  Arcus-Gruppen amounts to approximately NOK 820 million.
-   Ratos CEO Arne Karlsson comments: "Arcus-Gruppen has built up and continually developed some of Norway's strongest brands. Ratos's previous experience from Norway, including our investments in Dynal Biotech and Bluegarden, are highly positive. We now look forward to continuing to develop Arcus-Gruppen's operations together with HOFF which has a close connection to the history of the Arcus-Gruppen and to many of its brands."
-   Arcus-Gruppen's CEO Peter Wesenberg comments: "In Ratos we will acquire an owner that will focus on our operations and the further development of Arcus-Gruppen. Our joint ambition is to implement our adopted strategy of continued growth in the Nordic markets."
The acquisition is subject to approval by the competition authorities.
For additional information, please contact:
Arne Karlsson, CEO Ratos, +46 8 700 17 00
Peter Wesenberg , CEO Arcus-Gruppen, +47 905 23 970, +47 22 97 56 56
Anna-Karin Celsing, Head of Corporate Communications Ratos, +46 70 399 62 39