UPDATE 1-Pernod is no takeover target, says CEO after ‘constructive’ Elliott talks


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FILE PHOTO: Alexandre Ricard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of French drinks maker Pernod Ricard, poses at the company headquarters in Paris, February 12, 2015. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Pernod Ricard has held “cordial and constructive” talks with the activist investor agitating for change at the French drinks group, CEO Alexandre Ricard said on Tuesday before dismissing speculation that it could become a takeover target.

The world’s second-biggest spirits group behind Diageo last week vowed to lift margins and shareholder returns in a three-year strategic plan announced soon after New York hedge fund Elliott Management called for a shake-up at the company.

CEO Ricard, grandson of the company’s founder, said talks with Elliott centered around corporate governance and margin improvement.

Speaking to reporters in London, he also emphasized that Pernod is a consolidator rather than a takeover target.

“I hope there will be no surprise if I reiterate very clearly and specifically — Pernod Ricard is here, Pernod Ricard is here to stay and Pernod Ricard is and will remain a consolidator.”

He declined to comment on the likelihood that Elliott would seek a seat on the board of the maker of Absolut vodka and Martell cognac.

Pernod shares were down 1.3 percent at 1300 GMT.

Reporting by Martinne Geller; Editing by David Goodman


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