Pernod Ricard considering sale of iconic Czech spirit Becherovka

The French spirits maker is looking to streamline its portfolio, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 06.10.2023 10:29:00 (updated on 06.10.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Beverage company Pernod Ricard is considering the sale of Czech liqueur Jan Becher - Karlovarská Becherovka, Bloomberg reported Thursday.

The French spirits maker is looking to streamline its portfolio. Sources estimate the price of the herbal liqueur at USD 300 million, possibly more, and anticipate interest from international beverage firms.

According to the sources, Pernod Ricard is working with consulting firm Centerview Partners to gauge buyer interest. Becherovka has been produced in Karlovy Vary for over 200 years. Pernod Ricard acquired the liqueur in 1997.

A brief history of Becherovka

  • Becherovka was invented in 1794 in Karlovy Vary by Josef Vitus Becher through experimenting with herbs and spices. It has been produced there since the early 1800s by the Jan Becher company.
  • The secret recipe contains over 20 ingredients including various herbs; only two people currently know the full production process and ingredients.
  • During World War II, Becherovka was exported widely under the name Karlsbader Becherbitter. After the war, it became known simply as Becherovka following changes to the German population in the region.
  • It has a warm, cinnamon-ginger flavor profile and is popular as a digestive.
  • Served with tonic water it makes a drink called a beton (Becherovka and tonic), which means "concrete" in Czech. The cocktail was originally created for Expo '67 in Montreal and served in the Czech Pavilion.
  • The herbal liqueur was a favorite of former Czech President Miloš Zeman who has long been associated with the drink.

The sources say talks are ongoing and it's uncertain if a deal will materialize. Representatives for Pernod Ricard and Centerview Partners declined to comment.

Pernod Ricard is also considering further divestments from its portfolio of more than 240 brands. Last month, Bloomberg reported the possible sale of its wine portfolio including Jacob's Creek and St. Hugo. The company regularly evaluates strategic opportunities.

In August, CEO Alexandre Ricard cited weaker demand for premium alcohol in the U.S. and China over the summer. Pernod plans to repurchase up to EUR 800 million of its shares in 2024.

Pernod Ricard is the world's second-largest spirits maker after Diageo. Its other major brands include Beefeater gin, Absolut vodka, Martell cognac, and Mumm champagne.

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