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Merger of Finnish booze firm Altia and Norway's Arcus gets conditional OK from regulator

State-owned Altia's brands include Koskenkorva and Jaloviina, while Arcus markets the bitter tipple Gammel Dansk.

File photo of Altia's Koskenkorva grain spirit. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority (FCCA) has conditionally approved the merger of state-owned spirits maker Altia with Norwegian booze company Arcus, according to a statement issued by Altia on Monday.

The FCCA said that in order to gain full approval, Altia would need to divest ownership of its aquavit brand Skåne Akvavit and that Arcus must terminate agreements linked to the brand Metsmaasikas, a strawberry-flavoured liqueur.

The deal also hinges on approvals from competition authorities in Sweden and Norway.

Altia said that both companies were fully committed to the merger and were working with authorities to gain full approval by June. However, the firm noted that the merger could still be delayed until the autumn.

The Nordic alcohol firms announced the merger plans last autumn and the deal was expected to be completed by the beginning of this year. However, competition authorities in Finland, Norway and Sweden said the arrangement needed closer examination.

If and when the merger goes through, the combined company will be renamed Anora and Altia's current CEO, Pekka Tennilä, will continue his role under the new name.

State-owned Altia produces some of Finland's most popular hard alcoholic beverages, including the grain spirit Koskenkorva and the cut brandy drink Jaloviina. Meanwhile, Arcus markets a range of wine and other beverage brands, including Gammel Dansk bitters.