UPDATE 1-Treasury Wine Estate jumps on report Pernod Ricard interested in U.S. assets

Thu May 1, 2014 10:42pm EDT

* Treasury says no talks with Pernod

* Shares at two-month high (Updates with more detail, comment from Treasury)

SYDNEY May 2 (Reuters) - Treasury Wine Estates Ltd shares jumped more than 14 percent on Friday after French liquor giant Pernod Ricard SA reportedly said it was interested in buying the Australian company's troubled U.S. assets.

Treasury Wines moved to put a dampener on the report, saying it had received no approach from and was not in discussions with Pernod Ricard.

The shares pulled back after the company's response from a high of A$4.38, but were still up 5.7 percent at A$4.06, a two-month high, at 02:25 GMT.

Treasury's U.S. businesses, which include Beringer and Stag's Leap, have been a major drag on its performance with the company earlier this year slicing nearly a fifth off its full-year profit forecast.

"This morning's market reaction suggests the market would be happy with them being sold and looking that those assets would be more valuable in the hands of another operator," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Jean-Christophe Coutures, chief of Pernod Ricard Winemakers, was reported by the Australian Financial Review as saying that he would be interested in buying the U.S. assets.

Treasury Chief Executive Mike Clarke last month said the company's U.S. business was too important to give up, despite suffering a series of writedowns including a A$160 million ($148.36 million) hit on excess inventory that last year led the company to destroy millions of gallons of cheap wine and cost his predecessor David Dearie his job.

Treasury in January cut its operating earnings forecast to between A$190 million to A$210 million from a previous range of A$230 million to A$250 million. First-half earnings would be in the range of A$42 million to A$46 million, compared to A$73.4 million a year ago, it said.

($1 = 1.0785 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Thuy Ong and Jane Wardell; Editing by Paul Tait and Matt Driskill)

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