INDIA: Heineken quiet on APB, UB India conflict talk
Heineken has refused to be drawn on speculation that the brewer may face troubled times in India, following its pending acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle.
The Dutch brewer, which along with Carlsberg is poised to buy S&N later this year, jointly operates Asian Pacific Breweries. The joint venture with Fraser & Neave operates in 11 countries in the region, including India. S&N, meanwhile, holds a 37.5% stake in India's United Breweries, which is led by Indian entrepreneur Vijay Mallya.
Local reports today (12 February) cited a senior UB official as saying: "We have already indicated to Heineken that they cannot be part of competing structures in India."
When contacted by just-drinks today, however, a spokesperson for Heineken said the time was not right to comment on the reports. Referring back to comments made in January by company CEO Jean-Francois van Boxmeer, the Heineken spokesperson declined to comment further. "We've been reaching out to Mr Mallya, and we hope to work with him," van Boxmeer said last month. "It's a little too early to go into details, but this is an outstanding opportunity for us."
Speaking to the Economic Times in India, the senior UB source added: "We are looking forward to developing ties in a cordial way, and we are not unhappy with their entry into UB. But unless they have a business charter, like what S&N had with us, they will be just shareholders without promoter rights."
There are no markets where Heineken and APB operate parallel structures, the report noted, suggesting a merger of APB and UB as a possible solution.
A spokesperson for APB also declined to comment on the reports when contacted by just-drinks. "It is not APB's policy to comment on speculative media reports," the spokesperson said.
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