Maxxium Worldwide could come under pressure if Pernod and Fortune's Allied Domecq bid is successful, according to press reports today (14 April). The Financial Times warns that the company, established in 1999 by Highland Distillers, Jim Beam Brands and Remy Cointreau to distribute wine and liquor outside the US, could be a centre of conflict if the bid goes through.

Under the original agreement, now split four ways since Vin Sprit Group joined in 2001, Highland Distillers and Remy Cointreau have the right to veto certain new brands coming into Maxxium, the FT says. If Fortune buys Allied's Courvoisier brand, for example, Remy Cointreau may have an issue as it is in direct competition with Remy Martin brandy, which is sold through Maxxium.

Speaking to the newspaper, Matthew Jordan, analyst at Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein investment bank, said: "If Highland or Remy decide to veto any new brands, the downside will be to their own return on capital."

Citing industry observers, the newspaper points out that Maxxium could be unwound altogether if Fortune wants Allied's distribution as well as brands, thereby putting it in direct competition with itself.

The newspaper adds that, according to people close to the situation, a deal could be announced as soon as next week.