Drinks giants may vie for V&S brand

The Swedish government has announced that its vodka company Vin & Spirit will be put up for sale - sparking speculation that drinks giants Pernod Ricard and Constellation Brands will be in the running to take over the brand.

V&S is owned by the Swedish state, but will be sold as part of the recently-elected government's pledge to privatise six state-owned companies.

The move has led to reports that Pernod Ricard may be interested in buying the brand. Managing director Pierre Pringuet said as long ago as September, that he would "watch very closely what happens" if Absolut came onto the market, according to William Reed publication Drinks International.

Constellation Brands is also a likely candidate. Mike Martin, vice president of corporate communications, said the group does not comment on rumours about acquisitions, but it always looks at opportunities in the market.

"We've publicly stated on numerous occasions that one of our areas of emphasis is to expand our mid-premium and premium spirits portfolio because that is where significant growth has been occurring in the US, where the majority of our spirits volume is sold," said Martin.

Speculation has mounted that Fortune Brands' Beam Wine & Spirits is also in the running. Adrian McKeon, Beam UK managing director, told OLN in June that the supplier, which owns former Allied Domecq brands, including Teacher's whisky, Cockburn's port and Courvoisier Cognac, aims to become a "top three global spirits and super premium wine player", but he declined to comment on whether the firm is likely to make an offer for V&S.