Deals and IPOs

Diageo's Walsh Keen to Buy Absolut Vodka


British drinks giant Diageo is "very interested" in buying Sweden's $6 billion valued Absolut vodka and Chief Executive Paul Walsh says he can see solutions to any possible anti-trust problems arising.

"We are very interested in Absolut, and the feasibility will be linked to the level of interest," Walsh told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday.

He added the full potential of the vodka brand will only be known when full financial details are released.

"We can see solutions in all jurisdictions but the complexity will vary from market to market," he said of his interest in the world's number two vodka Absolut when Diageo already owns the best selling brand Smirnoff.

Sweden is pledged to sell off Absolut's parent, the 90-year old state-owned Vin & Sprit (V&S), and four players are keen on buying V&S, including Pernod Ricard, Fortune Brands, privately-owned Bacardi and Diageo.

Absolut is one of the biggest and fastest growing spirits brands in the world and is seen as the crown jewel of Sweden's largest-ever push to privatize state assets.

Walsh added that Diageo had not yet seen full details on V&S but he expected all likely buyers to be contacted in October by investment bank Morgan Stanley which has been charged with organizing the sale of the Swedish business.

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