POLAND: Agros defends position as non-bidder in vodka privatisation

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Agros, the Polish food and beverage group controlled by Pernod Ricard, is staying out of the sale of Polish distillery Polmos Poznan because it needs to focus on restructuring and food branch development, its board has said.

Agros Holding vice president Olivier Guelaud said: "It is not the best moment to initiate a buying process; all the more so because as Agros operates in a distribution sense…if we were to take part in the privatisation process, we would have to pay attention to the domestic market."

Pernod Ricard, however, is taking part in the sale and is already on a shorlist of three for the distiller that produces Wyborowa. And, Gueland's comments come in response to claims from Agros minority shareholder Highwood Partners that Agros is being unfairly prevented from bidding.

Highwood has demanded that the Treasury delay the privatisation process, saying, "Agros already holds the rights to Polish vodka brands abroad, which places the company in an exceptional position among tender participants and represents a historic opportunity to unite the domestic and international rights to Poland's premier vodkas."

Meanwhile, details of Pernod Ricard's plans for Poznan have been reported in the Polish press. The French company is apparently aiming to increase its Polish vodka exports from the current 500,000 nine-litre cases annually to 1m and eventually 2m cases a year.

This strategy is part of Pernod's offer for the second phase of Polmos Poznan's privatisation tender.

Companies: Pernod Ricard

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