Speculation over the future of leading premium vodka Absolut was brought to a close this week by a surprise move from Vin and Sprit which announced it was joining forces with the global distribution operation Maxxium. Worldwide distribution of the brand came up for grabs when V&S decided not to continue its relationship with Seagram when the latter was put up for sale. Seagram was sold to Diageo and Pernod Ricard without the Absolut business. That sale is still subject to regulatory approval (see above). The Swedish company has kept the industry guessing about its plans for the brand. Maxxium Worldwide chief executive Roland van Bommel told The Grocer: "Everyone has been knocking on the door at V&S, but we have spent eight months doing this deal." V&S paid £67m (107m euros) for a quarter share of Maxxium which will distribute Absolut worldwide, excluding the US and Scandinavia. It has done a separate deal with Jim Beam Brands to form a joint venture, Future Brands, which will look after distribution in the US. Van Bommel said: "We have a very strong portfolio but we were lacking a significant entry in white spirits. Absolut is a perfect fit. It gives us additional turnover and our cost base will improve. We operate in 38 countries and 60 markets and we have the infrastructure to handle the brand." V&S vice president Margareta Nyström said: "As a part owner we will have better control over distribution and better profits. We see this as a long term relationship." Maxxium was created in 1999 by Highland Distillers, Jim Beam Brands and Rémy Cointreau to handle sales, marketing and distribution for premium brands. The portfolio includes The Famous Grouse, The Macallan, Rémy Martin, Cointreau, Jim Beam bourbon and Geyser Peak wines. {{NEWS }}