Shareholders of world number two drinks company Allied Domecq voted Monday in favour of the £7.6 billion (€11.25bn; $13.45bn) takeover by French giant Pernod Ricard.
Sir Gerry Robinson, chairman of UK-headquartered Allied whose brands include Beefeater gin and Stolichnaya vodka, told shareholders: "In these increasingly challenging market conditions, your board considers that the need for further consolidation in the distilled spirits industry has become increasingly apparent."
The merger will create the second largest liquor firm in the world and a worthy challenger to number one, Diageo, whose brands range from Johnnie Walker scotch to Guinness stout.
Once the deal is done, and with an eye to placating competition regulators, the new company will sell on some Allied brands (Courvoisier cognac and Canadian Club whisky among them) to US conglomerate Fortune for around £2.8bn.
Pernod is also offloading its Irish whiskey brand, Bushmills, to Diageo for £200 million, part of a tactic to keep the Dublin-based market leader on the sidelines of the merger [WAMN: 08-Jun-05]. Diageo also has an option to buy Allied's Montana wine business.
Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content WARC staff