Olly Wehring

Fortune - bye-bye wine, hello Absolut?

By: Olly Wehring - 13 November 2007 16:56

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Fortune Brands' move to sell its US wine business, announced yesterday (12 November), would appear to set the scene perfectly for the impending bunfight over Vin & Sprit.

The likely sale of the Swedish state-owned drinks company, which owns the Absolut vodka brand, is expected to be announced in the coming months. And, with Fortune jointly handling Absolut's distribution in the US with V&S, as well as the two being partners in global distribution company Maxxium, Fortune appears to have the most to lose should it fail in acquiring the Swedish firm.

With Diageo, Pernod Ricard and Bacardi, among others, having all voiced their interest in V&S, it is understandable that it might be 'squeaky bum' time at Fortune's headquarters in Illinois. Certainly, the US$840m Fortune is expected to realise from the wine sale to Constellation Brands will help, but you can be pretty sure that the other runners and riders will take pleasure in, at least, driving V&S's sale as high as they can - and we all know that Diageo and Pernod have quite deep pockets when it comes to brand buying.

And so, we all wait for the off. All it'll take is for the Swedish government to raise the starting tape.

I, for one, can't wait - nor, it seems, can Fortune, now.

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Fortune - bye-bye wine, hello Absolut?

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