Maxxium will not be drawn on reports in Australia that Coca-Cola Amatil has approached the distribution giant about taking over its local business.

Coke Amatil is said to have held talks with Maxxium about buying its Australian business as it looks to reduce its dependence on a sluggish soft drinks market.

A report in the Australian Financial Review today (11 September) said that Coke has made an approach for the business, which is the third-largest spirits company in Australia. Maxxium handles, among others, Jim Beam bourbon, the best-selling spirit brand in Australia.

A Maxxium spokesman in London refused to comment when contacted by just-drinks today. "Maxxium does not comment on speculation," the spokesman said.

Coke Amatil officials in Sydney could not be reached as just-drinks went to press.

The report also claimed that the Coke bottler had held separate talks with Beam Global Spirits & Wine, which owns a quarter of Maxxium, on becoming the provider of cola in Jim Beam RTD products.

A spokesperson for Beam Global Spirits & Wine in Deerfield, Illinois, declined to comment. "We wouldn't speculate on what may or may not be floating around in the market," she told just-drinks.

Coke Amatil has long stated its intention to diversify away from CSDs. Last month, it set up the Pacific Beverages venture with SABMiller to push three of the brewing giant's beer brands throughout Australia.

The bottler has also been linked with a bid for New Zealand's Independent Distillers, which holds strong positions in Australia and New Zealand's RTD markets, and is up for sale following the death of its founder last year.