Pernod considers Absolut bid

Pernod Ricard chairman Pierre Ricard said a decision to bid for Absolut vodka parent company V&S will depend on whether or not Pernod has concluded a deal with Russia's Stolichnaya before the Swedish sale process begins.

Speaking at an analyst conference following the presentation of the group’s full year results, Ricard reiterated that the group was still interested in both acquisition targets, but said the main priority at the moment was Stolichnaya “because Stolichnaya is up for sale.”

In the case of Absolut, however, Pernod is uncertain when or even if the Swedish government will decide to sell the brand’s parent company, V&S, rather than launching an IPO.

In the meantime, Ricard said, “we can maybe finalize (a deal) with the Russians. And if we finalize it, we’ll have less cash to carry out the second deal.”

The chairman confirmed that negotiations with Stolichnaya owner SPI were already well advanced, although gave no indications of the timing of a conclusion.

“We’re more or less in agreement with one of the parties, now we’ve got to reach an agreement with the other,” he said.

Pernod acquired the international sales and marketing rights for Stolichnaya when it bought Allied Domecq in 2005 and has been in negotiations with the Russian authorities and SPI since last spring, looking to pave the way for outright acquisition.

At the same time, the group has made clear its interest in bidding for Sweden’s V&S, a move which has raised concerns among analysts who believe the group could be forced to pay a high price for the prized brand.


Swedish Purity in Absolut Vodka brand battle

Swedish upstart distillery Purity Vodka has taken beverage giant Absolut to court, in an attempt to straighten out a branding and marketing dispute.

Swedish Purity in Absolut Vodka brand battle
The Absolute Ice Bar. File photo: Tom Godber/Flickr

Stockholm district court will look into a claim by small Swedish distillery Purity Vodka's complaint that Absolut used the word 'purity' in a marketing campaign that the former claims infringes on the Purity trademark. 

The Dagens Industri business daily reported on Thursday that Absolut Vodka has used the term 'purity vodka' in a series of advertisements targeted at the US market. 

"We thought they should remove the word 'purity', it is our trademark, but they refused," chairman and Purity Vodka co-founder Göran Bernhoff told the paper. 

The complaint lead to Absolut Vodka countering the act by suing Purity Vodka both in Sweden and in the US.

"I'm surprised that they want to scare us, we are a small company," Bernhoff commented. "But we won't give up." 

Absolut Vodka has a long past of fiercely guarding its trademark. 

In 2010, the Swedish distillers sued British broadcasters at the Absolute Radio station. The dispute resulted in a confidential agreement between the two companies, allowing the radio station to keep its name. 

READ ALSO:  Sweden axes new word after Google intervenes

Last year, a hairdresser in Washington state in the US had to re-brand his salon after the vodka giant objected to his use of Absolute in the business name. His British colleagues appear to have stayed clear of disputes so far. A quick yellow pages search revealed on Thursday that there are still scores of Absolute Beauty salons, from Stirlingshire to Cornwall.

In Sweden, meanwhile, there are Absolute Car Towers and Absolute Catering, among seventeen other entries on phone and address directory website spanning cleaners to dentists.

Absolut is owned by French drinks group Pernod Ricard, which acquired the famed Swedish brand in 2008 when it purchased the Vin & Sprit (V&S) group from the Swedish state for 55 billion kronor ($8.88 billion).