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PRIVATISATION

V&S’s Beam stake bought by Fortune Brands

US spirits group Fortune Brands has bought Vin & Sprit 's 10 percent stake in Fortune's beverage unit, Beam Global Spirits & Wine, for 2.8 billion Swedish crowns ($464 million), the Swedish government said on Friday.

France’s Pernod Ricard won a battle in March to buy V&S, the Swedish state-owned maker of Absolut Vodka, beating out Fortune, which produces Jim Beam bourbon and owns the rest of wine and spirits company Beam Global.

The 5.6 billion euro ($8.8 billion) Pernod deal did not include V&S’s stake in Beam.

Fortune had been looking to exercise a clause allowing it to buy the V&S stake, although the sides had been unable to agree on a price.

Financial Markets Minister Mats Odell said in a statement that the government had now earned a total 58 billion kronor for the assets of V&S, which will go toward paying off national debt.

Sweden is in the midst of its largest-ever privatization of state assets, an effort the government hopes, will net 200 billion kronor over the course of its four-year mandate.

Pernod said on Wednesday it had closed the V&S acquisition.

“It (the Beam deal) is a good deal … We are very pleased with it,” Odell spokesperson Sarah Lundgren said.

TRADEMARK

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 Hitta.se 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).

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