French beverage group Castel is clearly confident of future growth in Russia and the CIS. The company recently announced that it is to invest heavily in its BIH Brasseries Internationales Holding (Eastern) Ltd the holding company in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia, helped by a loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The $20 million cash injection from the EBRD will be used by Castel to restructure its production and distribution capabilities throughout Russia and the Caucasus, as well as for selective development across the region.
Groupe Castel is the leading distributor of wine in Europe and the second largest worldwide. It is also the third largest water producer in France in volume. In Africa, the group is the leading beer producer and bottler for Coca-Cola.
Castel was one of the first foreign investors in the agribusiness sector in the Caucasus countries, where it has been developing its presence in the brewery sector since 1997.
Pierre Castel, president of the group, said that he was very pleased with this first step in the co-operation between Groupe Castel and the EBRD" .
Noreen Doyle, the EBRD's first vice president, said that the transaction offered the Bank a rare opportunity to invest across CIS countries and in particular showed its commitment to foster economic transition in the Caucasus countries.
The EBRD is one of the largest private sector investors in central and eastern Europe and the CIS, with some 200 investments in the agribusiness sector alone totalling more than €3 billion.