Bordeaux-based drinks group Marie Brizard has confirmed it is currently in "exclusive takeover talks" with the shareholders of William Pitters International.

Owned by UK investment group Duke St Capital, Marie Brizard has a range of products complementary to that of William Pitters. The takeover would provide scope for Brizard to strengthen its presence in the supermarket sector where it suffered a serious reverse at the start of the decade when it lost its contract with Grant's.

With a number of issues still to be resolved, analysts do not see a deal being struck before February next year. The possibility of a higher bid coming in for William Pitters has not been totally ruled out.

Over the past few months, insurance group Axa, and industry players such as La Martiniquaise and Angostura, are reported to have also expressed an interest in William Pitters.