The French drinks group Pernod Ricard yesterday refused to rule itself out of the running to acquire the Scotch whisky company Glenmorangie, which was put up for sale by it owners earlier this month.

It is suspected that Brown-Forman, Bacardi and LVMH are the strongest suitors for the malt producer.

However, joint managing director of Pernod Ricard Richard Burrows yesterday told journalists, while unveiling half year results, that, while he could not comment specifically, he could say that, "any opportunities for external growth that fit in with our strategy are ones we would look at."

He said: "We have set out our strategy very clearly at Pernod Ricard, now we are focussed on wines and spirits, we will grow organically and inorganically," before adding that, "you can see that the premium plus segment is getting attention right now."

Pernod might meet competition concerns to buy Glenmorangie, which could fetch over £300m, due to its large Scotch business already.

Pernod yesterday revealed a hike in first half profits of 4.7% cent to €169m.