Quiet, reserved and extremely loyal, Charles Bronfman is very much the opposite of his brother Edgar Bronfman Snr. This is not to say Edgar is loud and untrustworthy but Charles is very much a traditionalist and believes the family heritage is worth preserving. His objections to ever selling the spirits and wine company, bought by his father Samuel "Mr Sam" Bronfman 76 years ago, are well-known within the family circle.

As co-chairman, his role until a few years ago, was to act as the stabilising, if somewhat boring, voice on the board, reiterating the philosophy that certain businesses in the group such as drinks and its DuPont stake would be "around forever". But with nephew Edgar J. Bronfman Jnr. taking the reins, the style of the company changed, and having inherited his father's ambitious streak, the 24.2% stake in DuPont was sold and invested in the entertainment and music business.

Now the liquor business is superfluous to Edgar's dream company, Vivendi Universal, the $34 billion concern which the Bronfman's would own 8% of once the merger is approved. But he told analysts in New York a few weeks ago that the idea of a family member buying the drinks division "could not be ruled out".

Charles is rumoured to have appointed US investment bank Bear Stearns to prepare a bid of up to $7 billion. Sources close to the transaction, however, feel he must move quickly. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter is drawing up the offer memorandum which will be released in the next two weeks, not just to the family, but to Diageo, Allied Domecq and Pernod Ricard.

More speculation surrounds Diageo's consortium bid to scupper Allied's chances of success. Bacardi-Martini is alleged to be in discussion with Diageo to issue a joint bid. This deal would create more cost savings than Allied and is based around the two group's mutual respect after Bacardi acquired Dewar's scotch whisky and Bombay Sapphire gin from UDV in 1997.

Bacardi's only real problem, however, stems from that purchase. It paid £1.2 billion for the brands, a hefty price to pay, and is still debt-ridden. The family-owned venture is also regarded as "rudderless" by some analysts after CEO George 'Chip' Reid stepped down in March this year, frustrated at the family's decision to scrap its IPO aspirations.

Against such opposition, Charles would naturally seem out of his depth but the Bronfman family have a very strong bond. Can liquor really be thicker than water?

Elliot Lane