Absolut Vodka Looks for a Buyer

Swedish Government to Sell Brand's Parent Company

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Absolut Vodka is now officially up for sale.

The Swedish government said yesterday that it plans to sell six state-owned companies, including Vin & Spirit, the parent company to several brands including Absolut -- the world's fifth-largest spirit brand -- and Cruzan Rum.
The Swedish government wants to sell off the parent company that owns Absolut.
The Swedish government wants to sell off the parent company that owns Absolut.

'Will take time'
"State ownership should only exist if there is a motive for it," Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson said. "That's why we have chosen these six companies, because we don't think there is such a motive. ... We have started the process today, but it will take time."

The sale of V&S, valued by some Wall Street analysts at more than $4 billion, has been a hot topic ever since a center-right coalition took control of the Swedish government earlier this year.

Fortune Brands' Beam Wine & Spirits has been frequently mentioned as the most likely suitor for V&S, because it lacks a major vodka brand of its own and also because it already imports and distributes Absolut in the U.S. through a joint venture with V&S.

Then there's A-B
Another major marketer frequently linked to V&S is No. 1 U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos., which has frequently signaled its desire to enter a premium-spirits market growing much faster than the domestic-beer business it dominates. Recent communications between A-B executives and distributors have hinted at an imminent move into the space, although it remains unclear whether it would be in the form of a major acquisition or through the development of smaller brands such as A&B's recently introduced Jekyll & Hyde spirits.

Anheuser-Busch declined to comment; a spokeswoman for Beam was not immediately available for comment.
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