Tuesday, September 26, 2006


According to the WSJ's "Heard on the Street" column, a change in the govt of Sweden could uncork one of the liquor industry's hottest brands: Absolut vodka. The center-right opposition party defeated Sweden's ruling Social Democrats, and in its first week in office, it is talking about selling off and privatizing many state-owned co's, the crown jewel of which is Vin & Sprit, owner of Absolut. The vodka brand would be one of the biggest trophies to come on the mkt in the liquor industry. Absolut is the world's 3rd-largest premium liquor by volume, after Smirnoff vodka and Bacardi rum. Vin & Sprit could be valued at $5.5bn, analysts say. Liquor-industry execs are talking about potential buyers. Pernod Ricards' CEO, Pierre Pringuet, said the world's No. 2 liquor maker by volume could be a possible bidder. "You would be surprised if I were to say that there was no interest on our part in such a brand," he said. "If the privatization of V&S is started, there is no doubt that all of the industry will be there." Absolut would help Pernod expand in the US, where it is currently the No. 4 competitor by volume, and just 1/3 the size of mkt leader Diageo (DEO). Other possible bidders could include Constellation Brands (STZ), Fortune Brands (FO), Brown-Forman (BFA) and Bacardi. "We look at all opportunities in the beverage alcohol space," said a spokesman for Constellation.

Barron's Online "Inside Scoop" section reports that Drew Industries (DW) may have hit another bump on the road to recovery. With shares of the co already dragged down by a slowing economy, insiders have been taking profits off the table. So far this month, L. Douglas Lippert, Chmn of the Lippert division, and two of his sons have sold 146K Drew shares in the open mkt for $3.88m.

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