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UPDATE 1-Remy has firepower for $1 bln acquisition, executives say

(Recasts on CFO comments, adds detail throughout)

LONDON, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Remy Cointreau's balance sheet is strong enough to make a more than $1 billion acquisition without seeking additional resources, company executives said on Thursday.

While the company's short-term focus remains on organic growth, Remy would also consider M&A opportunities including tequila and champagne brands, Chief Executive Eric Vallat said after the company reported a 43% drop in first-half operating profit.

Tequila has been gaining market share from other spirits in the United States. About 70% of Remy's group sales come from cognac.


Chief Financial Officer Luca Marotta said that while bigger, transformative deals could require the company to seek additional resources, it could still make a hefty purchase based on the strength of its current balance sheet.

"If the target is a little bit profitable ... we can easily, alone, with our own legs, make a deal bigger than $1 billion in terms of price," he told analysts.

Vallat said that if Remy wasn't so focused on other priorities, such as driving value, it would probably have acquired a tequila brand already.

As well as tequila and champagne, an acquisition of a European brand would strengthen Remy's route to market in the region, which is currently mostly via distributors rather than direct, Vallat said. (Reporting by Emma Rumney in London and Dominique Vidalon in Paris Editing by Sharon Singleton and David Goodman)