• No acquisitions "for the time being"
  • Pernod keen to play a part in industry consolidation
  • More disposals possible, but not for debt reduction
Could Pernod Ricard sell and then buy?

Could Pernod Ricard sell and then buy?

The head of Pernod Ricard has clarified the company's current M&A stance, and stated that he intends for the company to play a part in industry consolidation going forward.

Pernod, which last year completed its EUR1bn (US$1.36bn) disposals strategy, had been linked to a move for Remy Cointreau's Champagne operations. The company has dealt with queries about the possibility of a bid by clearly stating that it currently has no M&A ambitions.

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks late last month, CEO Pierre Pringuet moved to explain his current “no acquisitions” position. “When I'm asked if I'm interested in Remy Cointreau's Champagne, for example, or this brand or that brand, I'll say: No, no acquisition,” he said. “I never said no acquisitions forever, I said no acquisition for the time being, that's it.”

Last year's announcement that Fortune Brands will spin off its divisions and hold on to Beam Global Spirits & Wine has prompted speculation that the drinks unit might be ripe for takeover later this year. While the likes of Diageo and Bacardi have been linked with a possible move, some observers have suggested that Pernod may be interested in some Beam brands. When pressed on these comments, Pringuet said: “Our position is extremely clear today.

“In the medium-term, however, yes,” he continued, “we want to be seen as a consolidator, definitely.”

Turning to Pernod's divestment programme, following its EUR5.69bn (US$8.90bn) purchase of Vin & Sprit in 2008, Pringuet would not rule out further disposals but said these would not be used to reduce debt. “In the wine category,” he said, “we are in the process of reviewing our current portfolio. That could very well lead to some disposals of the same nature (as the sale of Lindauer in New Zealand last year).

“But let's be very clear,” Pringuet added, “our rationale is not based on refinancing the group, not at all. The rationale will be sales and marketing, and streamlining our portfolio to those brands that have the best potential.”

To read the full interview with Pierre Pringuet, click here.