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CEDC scraps bond offer, extends bankruptcy deadline

Central European Distribution Corp , one of the world’s largest vodka producers, said it has scrapped a bond exchange after a rival company owned by its chairman made its own offer for the same notes.

Roust Trading Ltd, owned by Russian billionaire and CEDC Chairman Roustam Tariko, has offered to buy the CEDC notes that it does not own for $25 million in cash and $30 million in secured notes issued by Roust.

Tariko’s company owns approximately $102.6 million of the $258 million of the 2013 notes, which matured on March 15 without a payment from CEDC.

CEDC, which makes Absolwent and Parliament vodka, has struggled with financial problems, the resignation of its chief executive and recent battles with shareholders over control of the company.

The company, which has headquarters in Warsaw, Poland and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, holds large shares of the vodka market in Russia, Hungary and Poland.

Shares of CEDC have plunged in the past year and on Tuesday were down 6.3 cents, or nearly 20 percent at 28.9 cents on Nasdaq.

CEDC said in a statement late Monday that its offer to exchange its $559 million of notes that mature in 2016 remains in effect.

CEDC is also soliciting votes on a plan of reorganization in conjunction with its bond exchange offer. If the company fails to get the required votes to complete its bond exchange, it plans to file for protection from creditors in Delaware’s bankruptcy court.

The company said on Monday it extended the deadline for the bond exchange to April 4 from March 22.

In addition to the offer by Roust, a consortium of investors are holding their own negotiations to rescue CEDC. That group includes a unit of Russian conglomerate A1, SPI Group, which owns Stolichnaya Vodka, and Mark Kaufman of Monaco, who is a large shareholder of CEDC.

Source: Reuters