Pernod shortlists Absolut or Stolichnaya for acquisition

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pernod ricard Patrick ricard

Pernod Ricard has says it will purchase either Absolut
or Stolichnaya in its attempts to add an premium vodka label
to its portfolio, though it has not yet finalised any
acquisition plan.

A spokesperson for the company told that the group had yet to pick which of the two brands it wanted to acquire, reflecting the age-old problem of spending months discussing a possible acquisition of a leading global vodka brand, only for two to come along at once.

"The one we will get will be our favourite," the spokesperson added.

The claims follow mounting speculation this week that Pernod Ricard is near to completing discussions with SPI international over a possible acquisition of its Stolichnaya brand to tap into burgeoning vodka demand worldwide.

Pernod Ricard had been working with SPI International, which owns the rights to a number of Russia's vodka brands like Russkaya and Zubrovka over producing and distributing the organization's spirits products since May last year.

The company already distributes SPI's Stolichnaya brand around the world - with the exception of its native Russian market - as a condition of their cooperation agreement.

The company spokesperson refused to comment on the nature of ongoing discussions with SPI though, adding that it was well known that the acquisition of an international vodka brand was one of the group's priorities.

The company is involved in the distribution of some of the world's leading vodka brands, though does not currently own an international label of it own.

However, a possible deal for Stolichnaya may have been complicated last week with the announcement by the Swedish government that the state owned company V&S, which produces the Absolut vodka range, would be sold through an auction process.

Earlier this year, Pernod chairman Patrick Ricard emphasised he was interested in Absolut, claiming he would consider a move for the brand should the country's government decide to sell it.

Pernod Ricard's desire to pick up leading vodka brand reflects the buoyant market for premium alcohol labels and a growing interest from manufacturers around the world.

With consumption for premium spirits brands undergoing strong growth in markets like the US, many firms have shown a strong desire to add a major vodka brand to their portfolio.

In February, Constellation Brands, an intenrtional producer of beers, wines and spirits, announced its intentions to buy the fast-growing Svedka vodka brand from Guillaume Cuvelier and Alcofinance for $384m. Svedka is one of the fastest growing vodka imports in the US, and increased volume sales by 60 per cent last year to 1.1m cases.

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