A bidding war for Allied Domecq looks likely after US-groups Constellation Brands and Brown-Forman made a joint approach last night and Diageo also entered the frame.

The Constellation/Brown-Forman consortium also includes private equity group Blackstone and Lion Capital, formerly Hicks Muse Europe.

Allied Domecq said that it had received a preliminary approach for the company but that it was too early to see if this would result in a formal offer.

Last week it accepted a £7.4bn offer from French drinks group Pernod Ricard.

Speculation has also arisen that Diageo, the world largest drinks company was entering into urgent talks with rival drinks groups to discuss a potential approach.

Any such bid from Diageo would involve a carving up of Allied’s brands between Diageo and other companies.