August 30, 2012 / 8:11 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Pernod Ricard family takes leadership back

* Full-year profit from recurring operations up 9 pct

* Sales up 8 pct organically

* Alexandre Ricard to become deputy CEO

* Daniele Ricard appointed chairman (Recasts, adds CEO comments, details)

By Elena Berton and Dominique Vidalon

PARIS, Aug 30 (Reuters) - The founding family of French drinks group Pernod Ricard on Thursday strengthened its grip on the world’s second-largest spirits maker, setting the stage for a third-generation member to become chief executive and chairman.

Alexandre Ricard, 40, has been named deputy chief executive and chief operating officer in view to replacing Chief Executive Pierre Pringuet, due to retire in January 2015, the company said on Thursday.

At that time Alexandre Richard will also replace his aunt Daniele Ricard, 73, as chairman. She was recently named to the post after the sudden death of her late brother Patrick Ricard, whose father Paul founded the maker of the eponymous aniseed-flavoured liquor in Marseille in 1932.

The appointment of Alexandre Ricard will fulfill his uncle’s wish that the founder’s French heirs remain at the helm of a global business that includes Jameson Whisky and Absolut Vodka, alongside Ricard and Pernod pastis.

The family is Pernod Ricard’s largest shareholder with a 14 percent stake.

Pringuet, the first person outside the Ricard family to hold the CEO post, has been appointed vice-chairman of the board.

SOLID ASIA

The company said on Thursday it recorded its best growth since the 2008 crisis after solid Asian markets and robust U.S. demand lifted profit by 9 percent, beating its own previously disclosed forecast.

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, in line with a consensus of 8.21 billion from five analysts polled by Reuters.

“Despite the economic uncertainty, we are confident in the group’s ability to deliver solid growth this year as well,” Pringuet said in a statement.

At 0737 GMT, Pernod Ricard shares were trading 1.4 percent lower at 86.56 euros, underperforming the CAC40 index down 0.24 percent.

$1 = 0.7982 euros Reporting by Elena Berton and Dominique Vidalon; Additional reporting by Matthieu Protard; Editing by James Regan and Christian Plumb

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