As Pernod Ricard, Allied Domecq and Fortune Brands close in on the biggest drinks industry deal since the sale of Seagram, opinion about how the deal will be structured and who stands to win and lose remains divided. Just-drinks looks at who has said what since the saga began.

"Don't expect anything soon or at all. There has been some issues with potential partners getting involved." A banking source, 2 February.

"Every six months we see some smoke rising from Paris. After five years, people have seen it so many times they have started ignoring it." Allied Domecq CEO Phillip Bowman days before Pernod announced its takeover talks.

"Discussions with Allied Domecq are at an early stage and there can be no certainty that an offer for Allied Domecq will ultimately be forthcoming." Pernod Ricard, 5 April.

Jim Beam Brands "is working closely with Pernod Ricard regarding Pernod Ricard's potential offer." Fortune Brands, 6 April.

"With Allied, you're buying a mixture of the good, bad and indifferent. They've got quite a lot of local brands and not too many real world-beaters." Nigel Popham, analyst with London-based Teather & Greenwood, 6 April.

"It works well from many angles… (But) What we don't know is how much Fortune would like of Allied's portfolio and how much Pernod can afford." David Liston, senior global beverages analyst at Barclays Investment Services, 6 April.

"Like viewers of the 1960s horror comedy What a Carve Up, investors in Pernod Ricard are unsure whether to be amused or shocked. That is a measure of the respect Pernod enjoys for its role in carving up Seagram. Teaming up with Fortune Brands to do something similar at Allied Domecq would shrink the size gap with spirits market leader Diageo. But in crude financial terms, it is pretty horrifying." The Lex Column, Financial Times, 6 April.

"All groups have to benchmark themselves against the industry leader, Diageo. This possible takeover would push Pernod a long way towards their goal, helping them fill key portfolio gaps, bolstering their market share in categories with low market share, and giving them strength in key countries and regions." Al Smith, International Wine & Spirits Record, 6 April.

"You need only one sales force in any one area and it barely matters how many products those salesmen pull out of their briefcases. As soon as you merge any two companies, cost savings will come from making one of their sales forces redundant." Nikolaas Faes, Exane BNP Paribas, 6 April.

"The purchase will likely have a high debt component because the Pernod family is perceived not to want to dilute its holding in the company." Nigel Sillis, head of credit research at Baring Asset Management, 6 April.

"Fortune Brands Inc could have to withdraw from the Maxxium drinks distribution group if it acquires Courvoisier cognac from Allied Domecq. Alternatively, Fortune would have to agree to market the cognac only in the US." Dow Jones sources a spokeswoman for Remy Cointreau, 6 April.

"Pernod Ricard has the opportunity to reach a choice position - number three - in the world's biggest spirits market, the US." Fideuram Wargny analyst Cedric Louboutin, talking to Dow Jones, who also noted that Pernod's overall US market share would jump to 7.3% from 3.6%, 6 April.

"Pernod lags far behind Allied in terms of US presence, so the gains from merging the two firms would come more from cost-cutting than from boosting power over distributors. Since the strategic benefits to Allied's shareholders would be limited, Pernod would instead need to pay a hefty takeover premium to gain control." Industry analyst Datamonitor, 7 April.

"Bowman really wants a tie-up with Bacardi. They held talks that came to nothing. But if the Pernod talks turn into a bid it would not be impossible for Bacardi to come back into the picture." Analyst David Liston at Barclays Investment Services, 7 April.

"Bringing in Fortune Brands, the second-largest US spirits player but a niche firm globally, helps solve Pernod's funding problems. It also benefits Fortune, allowing it to boost its domestic scale compared to Diageo. But since Pernod may need to cede much of Allied's US business to Fortune, a three-way deal could do little to boost the French firm's presence in the most important global spirits market. A better outcome would be a genuine three-way deal that would create a serious global competitor to Diageo. Fortune Brands' spirits business (which accounts for around one fourth of the conglomerate's total revenues) could be merged into the enlarged Pernod-Allied group. However, there are likely to be too many corporate egos and fiefdoms at stake on both sides of the Atlantic for this to be feasible anytime soon." Datamonitor, 7 April.

"Bowman has done very well in turning the company around and I think he wants to remain in the driver's seat… I think there is a very good chance the talks will not reach any conclusion." Analyst Tom Pirko at Bevmark, 7 April.

"Pernod has a very good track record with Seagrams, so it will be very difficult to bet that they cannot make it work. A bid of 650 pence would be earnings-enhancing from the first year." Nikolaas Faes, an analyst at Exane BNP Paribas in London, 7 April.

"This changes the game plan for everybody." Ian Shackleton, drinks analyst at Lehman Brothers, 10 April.

"There are a lot of sharks swimming in the tank." An industry banker, noting the possibility of a rival bid, 10 April.

"They are watching everything from the sidelines. They may look at which brands are available." An industry source on the chances Bacardi is more likely to cherry pick brands spun off in the sale than launch a counter bid, 10 April.

"Can I just make something quite clear? We have not received a firm proposal; the board has not met to consider any proposal." Philip Bowman, talking to the Sunday Times, 10 April.

"Well, as I'm also chairman of a gaming group (Coral betting shops) answering would be a conflict of interest. Why don't you go to your local Coral branch and see what odds they'll give you?" Philip Bowman when asked how likely it was a deal would be made, 10 April.