Vin & Sprit has declined to comment on claims that it may have to pay up to SEK6bn (US$893m) to extract itself from two distribution agreements, should it be sold by the Swedish government.

A local report last weekend suggested that the Swedish spirits company would need to make the payments were it to terminate its partnership in Maxxium and its deal with Fortune Brands.

V&S holds a 25% interest in Maxxium, along with Remy Cointreau, The Edrington Group and Fortune. Remy Cointreau announced late last year that it will exit Maxxium in 2009 at a cost of around $318m to the French company.

At the same time, V&S has a 49% stake in a distribution joint venture with Fortune for the US market.

"The figure of SEK6bn was an assessment by a journalist, based on Remy's exit," a spokesperson told just-drinks today (12 September). "That figure did not come from us."

The spokesperson declined to comment on how much an early exit would cost V&S. "Our distribution agreements are confidential, and we can't comment further," the spokesperson added.

The Swedish government is considering options regarding state-owned V&S, including a possible sale. Among the potential parties lining up to buy V&S are Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi and Fortune, which is thought to be the front runner, thanks to the US distribution deal.