The French drinks company Belvedere is reportedly close to purchasing a 78% stake in the Polmos Krakow distillery via a capital increase, a Polmos Krakow spokesman was quoted in the Polish press as saying today.

A report by Interfax said Belvedere's Polish unit Belvedere Dystrybucja will make the purchase on behalf of its owner. Out of the remaining 22% state, 15% will be given to employees.

Belvedere has been in talks to acquire the Polish spirits producer for some time. The privatisation of Krakow is expected to take place via a PLN24m share issue.

Meanwhile the privatization of Poland's spirits sector should be completed by the end of 2003, the country's Treasury Minister Wieslaw Kaczmarek told MPs today.

The recently announced 30% cut in excise on spirits, to be introduced still this year, has boosted the attractiveness of the producers to potential investors, Kaczmarek said.