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.