INDIA: Diageo silent on 15% United Spirits stake
Diageo has declined to comment on a report that the drinks giant is closing in on a 15% stake in United Spirits, India's leading spirits company.
Following a report in India that Diageo has begun exclusive talks on a 15% stake in United Spirits (USL), a group spokesperson re-iterated to just-drinks today (13 November) that it "is reviewing a possible collaboration with USL".
However, she added, "there is no certainty at this stage that these talks will result in a transaction".
Speculation has been growing that Diageo is seeking a tie-up with USL, which has around a 60% share of the market and is part of Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya's United Brands empire.
One analyst told just-drinks last month that some kind of tie-up would "make sense" for Diageo.
However, there may be a number of hurdles to a deal. Diageo would likely have to ditch its current joint venture with Radico Khaitan in India, before signing up with USL.
Diageo may also choose to hold fire until EU and India officials have resolved their dispute over import tariffs on wine and spirits to India. The EU recently filed fresh action at the World Trade Organisation against certain Indian states.
Vijay Mallya appeared to dampen speculation in an interview with just-drinks managing editor Olly Wehring last month.
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