INTERVIEW: Malibu acquisition "absolutely feasible" says Pernod
The acquisition of Malibu, Diageo#;s coconut rum brand, by Pernod Ricard was "absolutely feasible", according to Pierre Pringuet, the joint-group general manager of the French drinks company.
Despite concerns in the industry its Seagram acquisitions might prevent a successful bid for Malibu, Pringuet told just-drinks that Pernod would not be over-stretched by a further spending spree.
Speaking at the media launch of Pernod#;s newly expanded whisky company Chivas Brothers, Pringuet said: "We are well ahead of the improvement of our financial position."
The reason for this, he said, was because the disposals of unwanted Seagram brands had been achieved or were well advanced . Deals for the brands left unsold would be tied up in "a couple of weeks, months at the latest," he added.
Pringuet went on to say Pernod's position was bolstered further by a strong cash-flow, generated last year ahead of plan and the low level of interest rates. He said Pernod was €1 billion below its target debt level.
Despite the scale of the job to assimilate the Seagram business, Pringuet would also not rule out other acquisitions. "You can chose your own strategy," he said, "but you cannot determine when something is for sale. You have to say 'will you be part of the game or not?'"
When asked about the continuing expansion of Australian wine companies in the US, Pringuet indicated Pernod's Australian wine operation, Orlando Wyndham, would not follow the path of BRL Hardy and Rosemount (now Southcorp) by establishing a joint venture.
"I am not fond of joint ventures unless they are very specific like Havana Club," he said. However he added: "Will we acquire new wine brands in the next five years? The most likely answer is yes, it is a growing segment all over the world."
He said that he believed there was to be further consolidation within the industry. "There are many individual companies which will probably have to consolidate into international groups just because they need the distribution networks and synergies."
Asked to identify a possible sector in particular, Pringuet added that he thought sweet liqueurs was "an interesting segment".
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