Constellation Brands appears to have backed out of the race to buy Absolut vodka.

The US drinks giant told just-drinks today (8 March) that it would not look to bid for Absolut's owner, Sweden's V&S Group, if the company comes up for sale.

Constellation had been named as one of the front-runners to buy V&S, which is set to be put up for sale by its owners, the Swedish government, later this year.

However, a Constellation spokesman said that the company had baulked at estimates of how much it would cost to buy V&S.

"At the prices that are being discussed in news media accounts, which are around US$5-6bn, the answer is no. We are not interested in pursuing (Absolut)," the spokesman told just-drinks from New York.

Last month, Constellation said it would buy another Swedish vodka, Svedka, in a deal worth US$384m. The spokesman said Constellation's move to buy Svedka is also a factor in its decision to walk away from the race for Absolut. "We also have Effen as a high-end vodka," he added.

The spokesman said Constellation believed Fortune Brands, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard and Diageo were the front-runners to buy Absolut.

Earlier this week, 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.