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Singer’s Elliott Pounces on World’s Second-Largest Distiller

  • Activist firm eyes 500 million euros in savings to lift profit
  • Eventual options are said to include sale of French distiller
Absinthe Production At Pernod Ricard SA's Distillery

Photographer: Marlene Awaad/Bloomberg

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Billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp. pounced on another European corporate icon, building a stake in Pernod Ricard SA in an effort to boost returns and sharpen governance at the world’s second-largest distiller.

The activist firm wants the French company to lift profit margins at least to rival Diageo Plc’s levels, saving 500 million euros ($567 million) a year by eliminating back-office duplication, cutting jobs in France and the U.S. and other measures, people familiar with the situation said.