From: Reuters
Published March 30, 2008 09:01 PM

Pernod Ricard reportedly wins auction to buy Vin & Sprit

NEW YORK (Reuters) - France's Pernod Ricard SA has won an auction to acquire Sweden's Vin & Sprit AB, the maker of Absolut vodka, a Wall Street Journal report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

The details of the winning bid were not immediately clear but the deal with V&S, which is owned by the Swedish government, was expected to fetch as much as $7 billion, the Journal said on its Website late on Sunday.

An announcement is expected Monday, the newspaper said.

Both companies were not immediately available for comment.

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Binding bids for V&S are due on Thursday, when Pernod Ricard, U.S. spirits maker Fortune Brands, Bermuda-based Bacardi, and Sweden-based private equity group EQT are in the running, a source told Reuters earlier this week.

Absolut is the world's third-largest premium liquor in terms of volume, after Diageo PLC's Smirnoff vodka and Bacardi rum.

Fortune Brands, which had teamed up with Nordic Capital, a private-equity firm, was thought by some to have a leg up because it already distributes Absolut in the United States, the Journal said.

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