Sale hands Pernod an Absolut edge

04 April, 2008

Pernod Ricard has won the bidding war for Sweden's Vin & Sprit to become

the new owner of Absolut vodka.

The French drinks giant outbid three other rivals, Fortune Brands, Bacardi and private equity group EQT, with its cash bid of

£4.4 billion.

The move will

give Pernod

an increased competitive edge against rival Diageo

in the vodka market.

Pernod's chairman and chief executive Patrick Ricard described Absolut, which is the world's biggest selling premium vodka, as "an exceptional brand" that will enable Pernod to become "the co-leader of the global wine and spirits industry".

"Its integration within our portfolio of premium brands combined with the strength of our worldwide distribution network paves the way for outstanding growth prospects," he added.

As part of the sale, Pernod has agreed to give up its distribution rights to Stolichnaya vodka.

The acquisition also gives the company control of brands,

such as Cruzan rum and super-premium vodka brand Level, which are

popular in the US.

Pernod has said that it will pull V&S' brands from the Maxxium distribution joint venture within two years.

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