When U.S. wine and liquor giant Constellation Brands (NYSE:STZ) withdrew from the bidding for British conglomerate Allied Domecq (NYSE:AED), its star dimmed a bit. It also left open the way for French company Pernod Ricard to make the acquisition.

The wine, liquor, and spirits industry has undergone a series of consolidations over the years. Today there's a single industry titan, followed by several much smaller players. Motley Fool Income Investor selection Diageo (NYSE:DEO) is by far the world's largest distributor, with a market cap of $44 billion. Following are Allied and Pernod, both with market caps of one-third or less of the leader. Diageo was reluctant to become directly involved in any acquisition talks, though it had expressed a willingness to lend financial support to either Constellation or Pernod.

Hoping to keep Diageo from siding with its rival bidder, Pernod reached a separate agreement with Diageo to allow the company to acquire the Bushmill's brand of Irish whiskey simply for not participating. Private-equity company Blackstone, which had been part of the Constellation consortium along with Brown-Forman (NYSE:BFB), may still seek to gain the restaurant division of Allied that includes Dunkin' Donuts and Baskin-Robbins.

Although Constellation ultimately failed in its effort to acquire Allied, it also avoided a huge financial burden: Allied Domecq has a large, unfunded pension deficit valued at approximately $800 million at current exchange rates. Analysts believe that Constellation would have had to assume too much costly and risky junk-bond debt to fund the deficit.

With Constellation out of the way, Pernod and Fortune still must win regulatory approval as the whiskey market consolidates even further. Pernod will take over Ballantine's whiskey and Beefeater gin, and that move could pose a regulatory hurdle, since it already owns Seagram's gin from the carving up of that company. It will also take over most of Allied's wine cellar except for the Montana line, which it's offering to Diageo. Fortune will add Kahlua liqueur, Sauza tequila, and Maker's Mark bourbon. Maker's Mark is another potential sticking point, since Fortune also owns Jim Beam whiskey. Most analysts, though, expect the acquisition to win regulatory approval.

Assuming their company gets approval, Allied's shareholders will be voting to relinquish their independence on July 4, and Pernod and Fortune hope to close the deal later that month. In the interim, star-struck Constellation will have to look elsewhere if it wants to expand its brand.

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Motley Fool contributor Rich Duprey does not own any of the stocks mentioned in the article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.