Diageo-United Spirits talks hit a snag

Diageo-United Spirits talks hit a snag
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First Published: Fri, May 08 2009. 09 44 PM IST
Updated: Fri, May 08 2009. 09 44 PM IST
Singapore: The world’s largest liquor maker by sales Diageo Plc.’s talks to buy a stake in India’s United Spirits Ltd have not progressed as the two sides have been unable to agree on details, a Diageo executive said on Friday.
“We have been in discussion, but we haven’t yet been able to find a structure that is acceptable to both partners,” John Pollaers, president for Diageo Asia-Pacific, said.
“We shouldn’t assume that this will lead to a transaction overall,” Pollaers said. The talks between the two companies began last year.
Diageo said in November it was considering a collaboration with United Spirits, the world’s No. 3 spirits maker by volume.
United Spirits said in February it was willing to offer a stake exceeding 15% and board representation to Diageo. United Spirits shares extended losses by almost 8% to a one-month low of Rs658 following the news.
Pollaers said Diageo, owner of Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, will continue to grow strongly in India even if the deal with United Spirits doesn’t materialize.
India’s media reports have said United Spirits would use proceeds from the stake sale to reduce debt of $1.2 billion (Rs5,916 crore) from its purchase of Scottish spirits maker Whyte and Mackay Ltd in 2007.
Asia’s drinks sector has seen a flurry of merger and acquisition activity this year.
On Thursday, Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed to sell South Korean subsidiary Oriental Brewery to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and Co. for $1.8 billion.
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First Published: Fri, May 08 2009. 09 44 PM IST