Pernod Ricard has hailed its purchase of Vin & Sprit as a "transforming deal", despite the loss of the Stolichnaya vodka brand.

The French company confirmed earlier this week that it will buy the Swedish state-owned company, which produces the Absolut vodka brand, for US$8.9m. As part of the purchase, however, Pernod will cease talks to buy Stolichnaya from Russian company SPI.

Speaking to just-drinks today (3 April), Pernod's managing director, Pierre Pringuet, confirmed that discussions with SPI have ceased, although the company will continue to distribute Stolichnaya outside of Russia, until a buyer is found. The two companies had been in talks regarding the brand for over three years.

"I think we did our best to reach a conclusion," Pringuet said. "But let's be clear, we were absolutely convinced from the beginning that if we could win Absolut, then that would be a far better option for Pernod Ricard for a lot of reasons.

"Firstly, there is the size of the brand - 11m cases compared to (Stolichnaya's) 3m. Also, while Stolichnaya is a very well-known brand in the US, it is still a nascent brand in the rest of the world."

Pringet described the V&S acquisition as "clearly a transforming deal" for Pernod. "The acquisition of Stolichnaya would have been the acquisition of a very good brand, that's the difference between the two."

Pernod will continue to handle Stolichnaya's distribution in the interim, although Pringuet was unable to say how long this would continue for."It won't be too long," he said. "The anti-trust authorities would both prevent us from adding the two brands (together), but also will prevent us from quitting the distribution of Stolichnaya overnight - that would damage the brand."