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Three companies show interest in Absolut

Published:  23 July, 2008

Three companies have made formal approaches to the Swedish government about taking over Vin & Sprit, the state-owned producer of Absolut vodka.

A spokesman said that both Pernod Ricard and Bacardi have sent formal letters of interest to the Financial Markets Minister in Stockholm, Mats Odell.

In addition, Fortune Brands, the owner of Jim Beam, with which Vin & Sprit has a joint-venture distribution group in the US, has orally expressed interest'. All the global wine and spirits businesses and several venture capital houses are expected to compete for the Absolut brand when it is privatised later this year.

The first steps in the 3 billion-plus sale have already been taken, with the government asking for Parliamentary approval to privatise the group. This is regarded as a formality and the government will then have to decide whether to agree a sale with a preferred bidder or to float the company on a stock market and then let a takeover battle rage.

Either route could see it criticised for not obtaining the highest possible price for Vin & Sprit.