Sunday, October 12, 2008

Copied from Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch Community: Jacksonville Company breaks into the public market

Liquor Group Wholesale (LIQR) has reached the milestone final stage before trading after their take over of North American Food & Beverage Company (NAFB) and East Coast Beverage (ECBV) of Colorado. Founded in 1986, NAFB was a publicly held corporation with hundreds of individual and institutional shareholders, whose common stock share price on the NASDAQ trading system has topped $11 per share and whose market cap has reached an excess of $220 million dollars. Liquor Group negotiated the conversion of the almost all of the multi million dollar debt of NAFB at closing to stock at a rate of $24.50 per share, and were able to capture roughly $22 Million in NOL Tax carry forward credits as part of the announced deal. The SEC granted Liquor Group Wholesale their Notice of Effectiveness on September 9, 2008.

Founded in 2002 in a home garage in Ponte Vedra Beach with only one product to sell (Happy Vodka) with sales in only the State of Florida, the company grew slowly and organically until March 2005, at which time the decision was made to distribute other brands and expand to new markets. By March of 2006 the company represented more than 600 products in 7 states and by March of 2007 the company had more than 1200 products in their portfolio with sales in 31 states. At their fiscal year end Liquor Group Wholesale represented more than 1700 products including well known brands such as Trump Vodka and Flavored Vodkas, Pravda Vodka, Pendleton’s Canadian Whisky, Willie Nelson’s Old Whisky River, and Old St. Andrews Scotch just to name a few. Liquor Group’s Single Malt Scotch selection is among the largest in the United States representing many top Scotch Specialists with offerings from all major Scotch Distillers including: Macallan, Highland Park, Glenlivet, Ardmore, Bowmore, Bruichladdich, Cao Isla, Longmorn, Edradour, Rosebank, Mortlach, Glen Elgin, Old Pulteney and Craiganmore.

C. J. Eiras, President of Happy Vodka Corporation, managing member of Urban Brands and Spirits as well as owner of the Wild Orchid Vineyards worldwide made the announcement to the financial press which included a glimpse of the new direction of the company: “This brings more than just a new name as NAFB became ‘Liquor Group Wholesale’, it brings a whole new level of opportunity for our shareholders and gives Liquor Group a competitive edge in the liquor distribution industry…” says Eiras “…at this time there are no other liquor distribution companies operating in the US that are publicly traded to our knowledge, which puts us in a unique position to capitalize upon.” The NASDAQ traded Central European Distributing (CEDC) is a close match to Liquor Group Wholesale, and it holds a hefty P/E ratio; however their only markets are Poland and parts of the Eastern Block in Europe so they do not compare with the potential market share here in the US. Diageo (DEO) is an ADR traded on the NYSE, however its operations are mainly that of a brand owner and marketer of beverages with no declared distribution ownership in the US. LIQR is a unique trade as it offers full service distribution, consulting and importation to brands in the Liquor industry on a multi state basis.

Liquor Group Wholesale applied to NASDAQ and the SEC to retire the NAFB stock symbol and obtain the symbol LIQR. Liquor Group Wholesale began the implementation of all US wholesale operations of Liquor Group effective immediately after the September 2007 contract closing date however the approval of the SEC filings and the application for the LIQR symbol are recent events and should be settled prior to the first annual report filing of the new regime.

“This deal has been in the works since early 2006 and we are very pleased to see it come to fruition…” says Arnold Rosen, NAFB shareholder representative and board member “…with the keen business savvy and excellent management team at Liquor Group, the new direction for LIQR is very exciting!” Rosen is well known for his activities in the Real Estate Market, however he became a director of NAFB in 1999 during a former restructuring as he has been a major shareholder in the company for many years and remained on the new board of directors.

The board of directors is a veritable “who’s who” in the Liquor industry, entertainment business and corporate world, including Lou Maggio, a retired long time executive at VENUS Swimwear and CEO of Ring Productions, a motion picture production partnership with construction equipment gurus Ring Power and John Travolta’s attorney Mark Ossi, Esq. Steve Dodge, the control state coordinator for Liquor Group and state manager of Liquor Group Michigan, a 20 year liquor industry veteran, who joined Liquor Group after holding the General Manager position at the multi-million annual case distribution operation of General Wine and Liquor for 12 years. Steve Wang, President of First Coast China, a supplier of beverage bottles manufactured in the Orient is also a long time business consultant on Asian affairs and markets. Jan Phillipe Eiras, CEO of Quadrus, a US Missile Defense Contractor and software development firm, who brings to the board a senior level of corporate management experience as well as software engineering and planning for future IT growth of the organization. Lou Frezza, owner of VORTEX Management, whom manages celebrities and musicians, including the rising starlet Charity Hodges, TV Host of Speed Channel’s #1 rated show NOPI Tuner-Vision. Lowell Newman of Liquor Group rounds out the board; a former archeologist for the Smithsonian Institute and former wine consultant for ABC Fine Wine and Spirits, Newman acts as the “nose” of the company, making brand distribution selection suggestions based on taste profile and overall value and merchantability.

LIQR may use its public trading stock in the future to acquire additional companies within the alcohol beverage industry that can lend an advantage to widening the Liquor Group’s distribution channel and stretch the overall bandwidth of the organization. The management team believes in leveraging shares rather than utilizing cash purchases, doing so through stock swaps with variable trounces while retaining the ownership and management team though the mutual success goals of increased share price greatly increases the likelihood of long term success in these types of transactions. The company intends to open spirits brokerages services in the balance of the 18 US control states within 2008, and will expand additional license state operations during this period as well.

Liquor Group is best described as a consortium of privately held organizations that operate as full service licensed alcohol beverage importation, distribution and brokerages, with activities in 31 US States, the US Military and several International countries. Although LIQR is now publicly traded, the other Liquor Group entities shall remain separate private enterprises.