Upbeat Pernod well placed to join £300m auction for Glenmorangie

Pernod Ricard, the world's third largest drinks company, emerged yesterday as a possible bidder for Glenmorangie, the iconic Scottish whisky company put up for sale last month.

Pernod Ricard, the world's third largest drinks company, emerged yesterday as a possible bidder for Glenmorangie, the iconic Scottish whisky company put up for sale last month.

Richard Burrows, the joint managing director of French-based Pernod Ricard, refused to rule the company out from the auction of Glenmorangie, which could reach a price tag of up to £300m, spelling out instead its interest in the premium and malt whisky market.

Mr Burrows said: "We have set out our strategy very clearly at Pernod Ricard to grow organically and also look at acquisitions. While the whisky market overall is pretty flat, the premium segment of the whisky market is growing and so that is getting our attention.

"Whisky is now the largest part of the Pernod Ricard business and premium Scotch is the largest part of that. If there are any opportunities for external growth that fit our strategy, we would look at them."

Bacardi is thought to be a very serious contender for Glenmorangie, as is Brown-Forman, the US drinks company behind the Jack Daniels brand. A shortlist of bidders is expected by the end of October.

Pernod Ricard, after buying part of Seagram's business in 2001, is already the world's largest malt whisky producer with its Glenlivet brand, and is the third largest Scotch producer with Chivas Regal. However, it is likely to come up against competition issues if it were to bid for Glenmorangie.

Mr Burrows' comments came as Pernod revealed a jump in first half profits of 4.7 per cent to €169m (£115m), with growth in whisky sales driving the group's performance. Chivas Regal saw sales up 11 per cent in volume terms, with sales in China doubling over the period. Glenlivet saw 11 per cent sales growth, and Jameson, Pernod Ricard's Irish whiskey brand, saw sales up 12 per cent.

Mr Burrows also said Pernod Ricard, which owns the Jacob Creek wine brand, was looking for further acquisitions in the wine sector.

Sales of Pernod Ricard's aniseed liquor, its original product, have continued to decline. The drink has become less popular in France, while whisky, vodka, rum and other spirits have seen sales grow.

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