just On Call: Diageo boss 'ambivalent' over possible Whyte & Mackay sell-off

By | 9 November 2012

Diageos CEO appeared unfussed about the prospect of not having Whyte & Mackay as part of the United Spirits deal

Diageo's CEO appeared unfussed about the prospect of not having Whyte & Mackay as part of the United Spirits deal

Diageo boss Paul Walsh has said he is “ambivalent” about the possible prospect of losing Whyte & Mackay to ensure the United Spirits deal goes through. 

Asked about potential competition issues over taking on the UB Group-owned fellow Scotch producer, he told an investors' conference call: “We will have to have that discussion with the regulators – the deal is not hinging on Whyte & Mackay”. Disposing of it would not affect the deal's outcome, he said. 

Later, he added: “We do not feel that we need Whyte & Mackay as a production resource... From a brand point of view, it has an interesting position in certain markets, but also we have brands that could occupy that space.

“We are somewhat ambivalent ... and we will look to see how the regulators feel about this and make our decision accordingly. Whyte & MacKay is not a swing issue here.” 

Earlier today (9 November) Diageo announced it has agreed to acquire a 53.4% controlling stake in United Spirits for INR111.7bn (US$2.05bn), folllowing months of speculation. 

Walsh was also asked about the prospect of getting 100% ownership of United Spirits in the future. But, he said Diageo had “no desire to drive to 100%”, adding that he is “comfortable” with part-ownership of United Spirits.

He added that the group also has no desire to "seek synergies" on beer with the UB Group's beer division. "That will not be on our agenda," Walsh said. 

Sectors: Emerging markets – BRIC, Mergers & acquisitions, Spirits

Companies: Diageo, Whyte & Mackay, United Spirits, UB Group

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