Finnish state-owned beverage alcohol group Altia Corporation today (21 March) confirmed that it is eyeing the Nordic operations of Absolut vodka owner V&S Group.

Altia, which distributes beer, wine and spirits across Nordic and Baltic states, is closely following the moves from the Swedish government to privatise V&S.

An Altia spokesperson confirmed that the company's interest in the V&S business - excluding Absolut - but declined to comment further. In January, Norwegian wine and spirits group Arcus also said it was interested in the Nordic operations of V&S.

Through its V&S Distillers business, V&S produces a range of vodkas, aquavit and bitters in countries including Sweden, Denmark and Finland. Last year, sales from V&S Distillers fell 4% due to lower sales in Sweden and divestments of local Czech brands.

V&S also distributes a raft of wine labels in Nordic markets. Sales from the V&S Wine unit fell by 2% in 2006.

Earlier this month, Bacardi publicly registered its interest in buying V&S. The admission came just days after the Swedish government tabled a motion for parliamentary approval to sell V&S, one of six state-owned companies it is looking to sell.

Other potential bidders for Absolut vodka, the world's fifth-largest spirit brand, include Pernod Ricard and Fortune Brands.