August 30, 2012 / 5:46 AM / 5 years ago

Pernod Ricard profits rise, names new chairman

PARIS, Aug 30 (Reuters) - French drinks group Pernod Ricard said it recorded its best growth since the 2008 crisis after solid Asian markets and robust demand in the United States lifted annual profit by 9 percent, beating its expectations.

Pernod Ricard also named board member Daniele Ricard, 73, as chairman to replace her late brother Patrick Ricard, who died on Aug. 17 at the age of 67.

Patrick’s nephew Alexandre Ricard, 40, will become deputy chief executive and chief operating officer in view to succeeding Chief Executive Pierre Pringuet, who is due to retire in 2015.

Alexandre Ricard’s promotion is expected to reinforce the Pernod family’s grip on the world’s second-largest spirits maker.

The Paris-based maker of Absolut vodka and Martell cognac posted organic growth in profit from recurring operations of 9 percent to 2.11 billion euros ($2.64 billion) on Thursday, beating Pernod’s own guidance for growth close to 8 percent in the fiscal year

Underlying sales rose 8 percent to 8.22 billion euros.

The owner of Mumm and Perrier-Jouet champagnes also achieved a net debt to EBITDA ratio of 3.8 at the end of June, compared with its own guidance for 3.9.

The French company proposed a dividend of 1.58 euros a share for the year, an increase of 10 percent.

Last week, Britain’s Diageo, the world’s biggest spirits group, posted a 13 percent rise in full-year profit, helped by its exposure to fast growing emerging markets, and putting it on track to meet its medium-term targets. ($1 = 0.7982 euros) (Reporting by Elena Berton and Dominique Vidalon; Editing by James Regan)

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