Absolut-ly for Sale

Absolut vodka—the Swedish booze whose cool ad campaigns and corporate sponsorship of everything artsy and hip kicked off the whole vodka-chic thing—is up for grabs.

Absolut comes on the market through the government’s sale of its 90-year-old parent company, V&S Vin & Sprit AB. The impending sale represents a sea change for Sweden, since the government has held a monopoly on all retail alcohol sales since the 1850s. But now, as a center-right government has replaced the former Social Democrats, Swedish Financial Markets Minister Mats Odell wants the government out of the vodka business.

Honchos from the big international beverage companies—Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi—are sure to be booking their jets to Stockholm this week, looking to acquire a hefty chunk of the premium-vodka market. Americans, far more than Swedes, remain Absolut’s biggest buyers.

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