Pernod Ricard has kept quiet over speculation that it plans to buy a Ukrainian vodka brand.

Amidst local reports that Ukraine-based Soyuz Victan plans to sell its Birch Buds vodka brand to the French drinks group, a spokesperson for Pernod told just-drinks today (10 December) said: "We want to have a big international vodka brand, but we will not comment on rumours."

The spokesperson noted, however, that Pernod remains in talks to acquire Stolichnaya from Russian company SPI. "We have been in negotiations with Stolichnaya for two years," the spokesperson said. "When the government decides, we will be one of the companies looking at the sale."

Pernod and SPI began discussions about the French company buying the Stolichnaya brand in September 2005. Pernod handles the distribution of Stolichnaya outside of Russia.

Other contenders for V&S's Absolut vodka brand are Fortune Brands, Diageo and Bacardi.