By Amelia Ball and Ian Neubauer

Australian distributors today refused to deny or confirm rumours that France’s Pernod Ricard had won a bid to acquire Sweden’s Vin & Spirit Group (V&S), the parent company of Absolut

The Wall Street Journal yesterday reported Pernod Ricard had won an auction to acquire the maker of Absolut, the fourth largest spirit brand in the world. The report cited “people familiar with the matter” and said the sale “was expected to fetch as much as” $8.5 billion.

A spokesperson for Pernod Ricard Australia acknowledged the report but declined to comment.

Maxxium Australia head of marketing, Brad Timbrell, said he could neither confirm or deny the report. Maxxium Australia is the local distributor of Absolut.

“While there is speculation as to who [the winning bidder] is, we do not know that for certain and cannot comment on these speculations,” Timbrell said. He said V&S’s decision was not expected to be finalised until the end of April.   

More than 20 potential bidders had been invited to participate in a tender for V&S, including Pernod Ricard, Barcardi, Diageo PLC and Fortune Brands.

Fortune had been placed as the favourite because of ongoing distribution deals and joint ventures with V&S in the US.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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