Eckes, the German food and drink producer, which is selling off its alcohol division, has published an information memorandum for bidders of its subsidiary Stock Plzen, the Czech Republic's largest spirits producer.

Speaking to local press Stock CEO Martin Petrasek said that the name of the buyer wil be known by the end of the first quarter 2003. The front runner, according  to local sources, is Pernod Ricard, although Allied Domecq, Remy Cointreau and Vin & Sprit were also mentioned.

Stock Plzen controls over 30% of the Czech spirits market. Last year it sold 26.2 million litres of spirits, up by 3.6 pct from the year 2000.