Bacardi-Martini has refuted reports in the UK press that it is in discussions with investment banks over a possible public flotation.

An article in the UK newspaper the Independent on Sunday reported yesterday that the company had drawn up a list of investment bank candidates to help it with plans for a flotation, including Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse First Boston and Merrill Lynch.

However, in a statement released to just-drinks, the company strongly denied these claims.

"It is absolutely 100% untrue that Bacardi Ltd is talking with investment banks about a possible £5 billion flotation as reported in the Sunday March 30th edition of The Independent. Not only is the figure preposterous, but Bacardi is not talking with investment banks about a possible change in the capital structure."

Earlier this month the Bermuda-based company sent out proxies to all shareholders seeking their approval to increase Bacardi's capital structure, which would require the issuance of additional shares beyond the 23.5 million currently held by stock holders.

Many believe this could be the first step toward an initial public offering. Bacardi has around 600 shareholders, the vast majority of which are members of the controlling Rodriguez family, who rejected an IPO when it was last proposed in 1999.