Bordeaux-based Lillet has confirmed that it is in exclusive sales negotiations with Pernod Ricard.

"The sale is agreed and will be finalised in three months when the audits are done," Bruno Borie, Lillet's owner since 1985, said today (18 January). The transaction's financial details were not disclosed.

Borie said the decision to sell had not been an easy one to make, but that it was the right thing to do. "Things are difficult these days for small businesses in the global market," he said.

About 750,000 bottles of Lillet - an orange-flavoured, wine-based aperitif - are produced annually, for a EUR3.8m (US$5.5m) turnover. Borie said the presence of the brand in the latest James Bond film, Casino Royale, helped improve sales, particularly in the US.

"In 2007 we sold 20,000 bottles there, compared to 18,000 in 2006 ­- an 18% increase," Borie said.