Diageo has refused to comment on speculation that it is planning to exit its joint venture with Radico Khaitan in India.

Following a local media report suggesting Diageo had embarked on an exit strategy, a company spokesperson told just-drinks today (4 November) that it "is not prepared to comment on rumour or speculation".

Diageo set up a joint venture with Radico in 2006, in order to gain a greater foothold in India's blossoming spirits market. Analysts estimate that Radico Khaitan holds around a 10% share of the country's spirits market.

A Diageo spokesperson told just-drinks last month that the drinks giant had entered talks with Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya about a possible stake in his United Spirits business, far and away the market leader.

Talks have only been exploratory up to now, just-drinks understands, with no clear picture of the form a tie-up might take.

Dr Mallya, speaking exclusively to just-drinks at last week's TFWA World exhibition in Cannes, confirmed that informal discussions had taken place, but sought to dampen the speculation.

He added, however, that any deal between between Diageo and United Spirits would have to spell the end of the Radico venture. "You can't be in bed with two Indian companies," he said.