The Swedish government has begun the auction process for state-owned Vin & Sprit by contacting a wealth of interested bidders.

Reports late last week have claimed that the country's financial markets minister, Mats Odell, has sent over 30 letters to companies that the Government believes would be interested in acquiring V&S, which owns the Absolut vodka brand.

"On Tuesday morning a number of letters, more than 30, were sent to those who had notified us of their interest already, as well as others which Morgan Stanley had identified as potential participants," Odell was cited as saying on Friday (14 December).

Earlier this month, the Swedish government unveiled plans to sell V&S by auction at some point next year. "It will be the one who pays the highest price and the one who after a full assessment shows that it offers the best (deal) for the Swedish households," Odell said last week, adding that V&S would be sold whole and not broken up. As well as Absolut, V&S also owns, among others, the Luksusowa vodka brand in Poland and Cruzan rum.

No-one at the Swedish finance ministry was immediately available for comment when contacted by just-drinks today.