Pernod Ricard to sell Vin & Sprit

French alcohol group Pernod Ricard, which last year purchased the Vin & Sprit (V&S) group from the Swedish state for 55 billion Swedish kronor ($8.88 billion), has announced it intends to keep Absolut Vodka but will sell off the rest of the Swedish drinks group.

The list includes factories and brands such as Explorer, Renat and Blossa glögg, as well as around 40 wine labels, including one of the group’s largest, Chill Out, reports Dagens Nyheter newspaper.

The other brands have a total turnover to 900 million kronor ($127 million), while Absolut contributed 2.8 billion kronor ($396 million) to the group’s operating profit.

Pernod Ricard never intended to maintain ownership of the entire V&S group following the purchase from the Swedish government in 2008. But the sale has been delayed by one of the company’s lenders, which wants to reduce Pernod’s debt following the multi-billion kronor deal.

Possible new owners include Ratos and Finnish Altia. The sale is expected to be completed during the autumn.

Dagens Industri business daily reported that the purchase price is likely to be lower than it was last year prior to the financial crisis.

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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).