The French spirits group, Pernod Ricard, and Australian brewer, Foster's Group, are in talks which would see Pernod take over the Australian distribution of 14 former Seagram brands currently in the Foster's portfolio.

Sources suggest the two companies have been in negotiations for the past few weeks and are expected to finalise the details by the end of the month. Foster's made no comment other than to say that negotiations were "continuing".

The former Seagram brands under discussion include Chivas Regal, Glenlivet Single Malt Whisky, Seagrams Gin and Martell Cognac. Pernod Ricard's acquisition of Seagram gave it the right to take over Australian ownership of the brands.

The spirits division of Foster's Group, though much smaller than the company's beer and wine interests, recorded sales of A$106m in 2000-01 and earnings before interest and tax of A$15.2m.

Foster's will retain some important non-Seagram brands such as Black Douglas and Cougar Bourbon and said it was interested in growing its spirits operations. "We are interested in growing our spirits business and are currently looking at a range of options in that regard,'' a company spokesman said.