Absolut Pandemonium

If you think brands are dead, consider the events of Oct. 12 in the liquor business. First, Seagram Co. announced that it had acquired the right to distribute Absolut, the ultrahip Swedish vodka, in the U.S. and overseas. Estimated price to Seagram: $1.25 billion. Over at Grand Metropolitan PLC, whose International Distillers & Vintners Ltd. division has been distributing Absolut for the past 13 years, the response was swift and furious. A spokeswoman for IDV says it is contemplating suing Vin & Sprit, Sweden's state liquor company, which exports Absolut.

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