Bids for at least 51% of the Polmos Poznan distillery, maker of the international Wyborowa brand, have begun today, according to the Polish Treasury. Bidders will be shortlisted by 22 September.

"The number of bidders allowed to carry due diligence will depend on the quality of the initial bids," said a Treasury official. After binding offers are submitted the ministry will grant exclusive negotiating rights to one or more of the bidders.

Among those expected to submit bids are Pernod Ricard, Allied Domecq and a joint bid from Eckes and Swedish monopoly Vin&Sprit.

The bidding has commenced while international rights for the Wyborowa brand are still in dispute, making the distilleries value hard to judge. Originally held by Agros, which is controlled by French company Pernod Ricard, the international rights were confiscated by the State with the view to giving them back to Polmos Poznan.

Worries that this was illegal and would deter other foreign investors in Poland prompted the Polish President to intervene. He ruled that the issue warranted further investigation and the dispute now lies with Poland's Constitutional Court.