Billionaire Russian Vodka Maker Tariko May Expand His Distribution Unit

MOSCOW, Russia -- Billionaire Roustam Tariko, the owner of Russian Standard vodka, said he may expand his liquor distribution business into neighboring countries.

Russian Standard vodka

“We may go to some other markets like Ukraine with our business model,” Tariko, 48, said in a Sept. 23 telephone interview from Sydney. “But it’s unlikely we will expand somewhere else.”

Tariko, ranked Russia’s 47th-richest man by Forbes magazine, said he will consider acquiring rival spirit makers to bolster growth. In June, Tariko announced plans to buy Nemiroff, a Ukrainian vodka maker, to add lower-priced brands to his Russian Standard portfolio.

“We have a strong competitive advantage in vodka from Russia,” Tariko said. “For me to go and enter another category, like whiskey, or something else would definitely be an opportunity, but it would be more expensive.”

Russian Standard says it is the country’s biggest producer of premium vodka, defined as costing more than 200 rubles ($6.46) per 0.75 liter bottle.

The billionaire is reluctant to introduce flavored vodka, a tactic he says rival Pernod Ricard SA has done successfully with its Absolut brand, as such a product may lack the long-term growth of traditional sprits.

Tariko had an estimated fortune of $1.4 billion, Forbes magazine said in April. His Russian Standard Corp. runs a liquor distribution business, the original source of his wealth, and owns a bank.

Source: Bloomberg