Belvedere is expected to announce its takeover of French counterpart Marie Brizard tomorrow (21 December).

A company official has confirmed that a statement will be issued tomorrow but declined to comment on its content.

Trading has been suspended in both companies' shares pending the statement, which is being validated by the French stock market regulator.

The imminent deal was widely-reported in the French media yesterday and will give Belvedere a diversified portfolio spanning wines, spirits and soft drinks.

Until now, the Beaune-based company has specialised in the so-called 'white' spirits distribution segment in eastern Europe and, in particular, in Poland where it is the market leader for vodka, owning several brands.

Belvedere and Marie Brizard posted turnovers in 2004 of EUR459.6m and EUR337m respectively.