E-Cig Makers Victory, FIN Sign Merger Agreement

Published in CSP Daily News

FIN's Maisel to assume vice chairman role at Victory

SPRING LAKE, Mich. -- Victory Electronic Cigarettes Corp. and FIN Branding Group LLC have signed a definitive agreement to merge the two companies and create a new leading electronic cigarette company. The new company leverages the FIN brand and sales and marketing depth of the FIN organization with the supply chain capabilities, international breadth and financial strength of Victory.

Victory has announced that Elliot B. Maisel, chairman and CEO of Atlanta-based FIN Branding, will join the Victory board as vice chairman and lead director.

Within the past 30 days, Spring Lake, Mich.-based Victory completed the acquisition of VAPESTICK, one of Europe's leading e-cigarette brands, and forged a partnership with Fields Texas Ltd. to drive global distribution and strategic retail expansion. The addition of FIN brings acceleration of scale and distribution in the United States, significantly upgrades the global leadership team and furthers the company's stated efforts to consolidate the electronic cigarette industry globally.

FIN has distribution in all 50 states in more than 50,000 outlets across all major channels, and it is one of the top brands in the convenience, drug, mass, and food channels, the company said. The FIN brand is available at retailers including Walmart, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Kroger, 7-Eleven, Circle K, Sam's, Murphy USA, Stripes, Mapco and more than 200 other chains.

Brent Willis, chairman and CEO of Victory, and a former senior executive at InBev, Kraft, and the Coca-Cola Co., said, "FIN is a powerhouse in the U.S. with a great brand, great presence and great growth trends. Their strength in sales and marketing is unmatched, and their management team is impressive. Elliot Maisel, FIN's Chairman and CEO, is hugely respected and has a tremendous track record of success both in the beer industry and in leading FIN to become one of the preeminent e-cig companies in the U.S. He is going to be a great partner as we combine efforts together with Bill Fields, Michael Clapper and others to build the world's largest independent electronic cigarette company."

The newly formed entity creates an enterprise with 2014 sales on track to surpass $100 million, the companies said. With the integration of the FIN Branding Group, Victory has now completed three major transactions in recent months and expects to complete multiple others to grow its brand, distribution, and strategic retailer platforms worldwide. The group is focused on leveraging its low-cost position, supply chain and distribution expertise, and experience in running global multinationals to build a leading independent global e-cigarette company.

"We are … confident that the FIN brand will be an iconic American brand that we can leverage into much broader distribution," Bill Fields, chairman of Fields Texas, board member at Victory, and former CEO of Wal-Mart Stores, said. "Together with the Victory Brand at an opening price point and other exclusive brands, we believe we have a compelling offer for both retailers and distributors alike with superior margins and throughput versus any industry competitor."

Elliot Maisel, chairman and CEO of FIN, commented, "The combination of the FIN and Victory brands provides an incredible one-two punch for distributors, retailers and consumers and an opportunity to further increase shareholder value by capturing significant cost and revenue synergies. The combination of the FIN and Victory organizations, coupled with the leadership of Field's Texas and VAPESTICK in Europe, creates a company with greater potential and growth opportunity than any other competitor in the industry."