The Swedish government is saying “skol!” to the drinks industry as it formally launches the auction of Vin & Sprit, the maker of Absolut Vodka. It is the biggest move yet in Stockholm’s sell off of state assets and is likely to be one of the largest and most fiercely fought corporate auctions of the coming year.
Four of the world’s biggest drinks groups have indicated an interest in buying the Swedish distiller. They are France’s Pernod Ricard, Bacardi which is headquartered in the Bahamas, Fortune Brands of the US and Britain’s Diageo. In addition a bid could come from a group including the Swedish private equity firm EQT.
The Swedish government has said that only bids for the whole of V&S will be considered and the price offered will be the main determining factor. It has not made it a requirement for the sale that Absolut production has to stay in Sweden.
Analysts estimated the winning bid will have to be more than four billion euros. Nearly 89 million litres of the vodka were sold in 126 countries last year.