Radico Khaitan, Diageo committed to joint venture

Radico Khaitan, Diageo committed to joint venture

Mumbai: Indian spirits maker Radico Khaitan is looking to introduce more brands from its joint venture with Britain’s Diageo Plc, a top official said on Wednesday, but declined to comment whether it would be willing to reduce stake in the joint venture.

The world’s largest alcoholic drinks maker and Radico, India’s second largest liquor company, have an equal joint venture, Diageo Radico Distilleries Pvt Ltd, to make and sell liquor products in India.

Late last year Diageo received approval from Foreign Investment Promotion Board to raise its stake in the joint venture to 100%.

“The joint venture has got off the ground. Both of us are committed to the joint venture and committed to the brands we are introducing," chairman and managing director Lalit Khaitan told Reuters.

When asked if Diageo was planning to raise its stake in the venture, Khaitan said it was an enabling and technical resolution. “More than that I cannot say," he said.

Diageo, which operates in India through its wholly-owned unit Diageo India, has been looking to form alliances in India to strengthen its marketing and distribution presence.

Last year its efforts to pick up a stake in United Spirits, the world’s second largest spirits maker by sales, fell through as the two companies could not agree on valuations.

The four-year old joint venture with Radico has so far produced the premium whisky brand, Masterstroke, launched about three years back.

Radico, which has brands such as 8 p.m. whisky, Contessa Rum and Old Admiral Brandy in its portfolio, reported a profit in the December quarter against a loss year ago, boosted by higher sales and a rise in prices.

In the current fiscal year to March the company, expects to sell 15 million cases of liquor, up 16.6% from year-ago, and sees that rising to 20 million cases by 2012, Khaitan said.