The joint managing director of Pernod Ricard has tried to calm growing speculation that the company is under pressure from competing interests in Allied Domecq. Speaking to reporters in New York yesterday (3 May), Pierre Pringuet said that the French company feels no pressure from the likes of Constellation and Brown-Forman, both of whom have teamed up to look at Allied's books.

"I don't see how they could do it," said Pringuet, citing obstacles such as antitrust and tax concerns, as well as pension liabilities. "There is only one offer on the table," he added. "Our offer has been approved and recommended by the (Allied) board. What kind of pressure do we feel? Nothing."

With no counter bids yet made, Pringuet said that the company intends to see what kind of offer, if any, emerges before considering any other move. For the moment, he said: "I don't see why I should be bidding against myself."

"We do understand why players are trying to interfere," Pringuet said, "because (Allied) is highly attractive."

Separately, Pringuet said that Pernod is in negotiations with the Russian owners of Stolichnaya to make the brand its flagship vodka in the US. "It's an obvious choice," he said. "The profit level is higher."

The company will probably use JPMorgan Chase & Co. to auction off Allied's Quick-Service restaurant business, which Pernod intends to sell if its bid is successful, Pringuet added. The assets, which include Dunkin' Donuts, Baskin-Robbins and Togo's, already have attracted the interest of both strategic and private-equity buyers, he concluded.