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Fortune is favourite in Absolut bidding war

27 August, 2008
Page 6 
Fortune Brands is believed to be ahead of its rivals in the bidding auction for Sweden's state-owned Vin & Sprit, owner of Absolut vodka.

Sweden's government has narrowed the race to four bidders, according to a local media report, understood to be Fortune Brands, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi and a private equity group.

But it is Fortune, which already distributes Vin & Sprit's Absolut vodka brand in the US, which is thought to be ahead.

"Fortune now has the best chance of getting it," one analyst who wished to remain anonymous told Drinks International. "They know the company and they would have the least distribution fees to pay [because of the existing contract in the US]".

He said that Fortune's proceeds from selling its wine division to Constellation recently gave the group around a $1 billion head-start on Pernod Ricard. Pernod, although bigger, would find that "tough" to make up, he added.