Sweden's government is to auction off state-held Vin&Sprit, owner of the Absolut Vodka brand. The privatisation should be completed some time next year.

The Swedish government did not indicate how much it expected to make on  the sale, but news agency TT valued the company at about €4.2 billion.

In 2006, the group's sales soared by 8% compared with the previous year.

The Swedish parliament last June gave the country's centre-right government the go-ahead to sell state holdings in five companies in addition to Vin&Sprit, including telecoms operator TeliaSonera, banking group Nordea and the OMX stock exchange operator.

Bacardi, maker of the world's leading rum brand, has already expressed interest in purchasing Vin&Sprit's crown jewel, Absolut Vodka. The world's leading spirits company, Diageo, and France's Pernod-Ricard have also expressed interest in the sale.