Sweden’s Vin & Sprit has signed a $740m (&£518.7m) deal with US-based Jim Beam Brands and its UK sales and marketing arm Maxxium for the global distribution of its Absolut vodka brand.
Under the agreement, V&S and JBB, owner of Jim Beam bourbon, will form Future Brands LLC, a joint venture for the distribution of the companies’ brands in the US.
Absolut was previously distributed by Seagram, which last year sold its drinks portfolio to Diageo and Pernod Ricard.
The French and UK drinks giants beat off a joint challenge for Seagram’s drinks business from V&S in partnership with Brown-Forman, maker of Jack Daniel’s whisky, and Bacardi.
Swedish state-owned wine and spirit distributor V&S will also take a 25 per cent stake in the Maxxium distribution venture, which was set up by JBB, Remy Cointreau and Highland Distillers in 1999.
Maxxium will distribute the premium vodka brand in all major markets outside the US, including the UK and Europe.
V&S president and chief executive, Peter Lagerblad, says the new distribution agreements will give the company “a platform to become one of the leading international spirits companies”.
The joint venture, which will rival the number one US spirits distributor Diageo, will allow V&S to distribute the Absolut brand in the US at or near cost. Jim Beam Brands’ senior vice president, Michael P Donohoe, has been named chief executive of Future Brands LLC.