Bacardi Wants to Buy Absolut Vodka Maker: FT

Bacardi wants to buy Absolut vodka maker Vin & Sprit and has written to the Swedish government to express its interest, the private drinks company's chief executive told the Financial Times.

"V&S and Absolut especially would be a terrific fit for Bacardi," Andreas Gembler said in comments published in Monday's edition of the newspaper.

"Of the few global brands that are really left to acquire, V&S -- and in particular, Absolut -- obviously represents a jewel for a company like ours."

The FT cited analysts as valuing a sale of Vin & Sprit at about 4.3 billion euros ($5.66 billion).

Sweden's center-right government asked parliament on Friday to back the sale of three state-owned firms, including Vin & Sprit, but left all options open as to when and how sell-offs will happen.

Stockholm plans to raise an estimated 150 billion Swedish crowns ($21.2 billion) over the next three years through the privatisation of the 90-year-old spirits maker, Sweden's top real estate firm Vasakronan and mortgage lender SBAB.

Absolut vodka, the world's third-biggest-selling spirit according to the company, has already attracted interest, with analysts saying U.S. drinks firm Fortune Brands is seen as the most likely buyer. French luxury goods maker LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton and Pernod Ricard have also said they were keen to buy.

Gembler was quoted as telling the FT he would like to see the government sell Vin & Sprit as soon as possible, adding that he was optimistic it would be on the market later this year.

Bermuda-based Bacardi would not need to pursue an initial public offering to purchase its Swedish rival, he said.

"There is no need today for an IPO. We have absolutely no problem in financing any deal of this size," Gembler said.

"The banks who have lent money in the past and who are lending money today would be happy to help us in this situation."