Sweden to hopefuls: Absolut is not for sale

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STOCKHOLM -- The Swedish government has told foreign drinks groups that it is not interested in selling off the successful vodka brand Absolut, and has "absolutely no plans" to privatize the company.

The statement follows what finance ministry officials described as a "flood" of inquiries sparked off by the government's plans to privatize other state companies. The government has made it clear Absolut will not be on this list.

According to officials, inquiries came from North America, Europe and Asia. "The government's stand is understandable. Absolut is a brand of tremendous national significance in Sweden, and we are much coveted," says Goran Lundqvist, division chief at Absolut.

Absolut forms part of the state owned group Vin & Sprit.

"The government is not going to sell one of Sweden's best known brands," says Lundqvist. "Divesting Absolut is tantamount to selling Volvo. We are the eighth most popular liquor brand in the world, and the fifth most popular in the United States."

Copyright May 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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