The head of United Breweries has said that there "shouldn't be any roadblocks" in his company's negotiations with Heineken over a stake in the Indian company.

Reports out of India in the last few months have suggested that Heineken, which will inherit Scottish & Newcastle's 37.5% stake in UB when it completes its purchase of S&N in the coming months, could face hostility from UB over the change of ownership.

Heineken jointly operates Asia Pacific Breweries with Fraser & Neave. The joint venture operates in 11 countries in the region, including India, a fact that has reportedly caused UB some concern. "We have already indicated to Heineken that they cannot be part of competing structures in India," a senior UB official told local reporters last month.

Speaking exclusively to just-drinks yesterday (15 April), however, Vijay Mallya, the owner of UB, said negotiations between the two companies remain ongoing.

"Scottish & Newcastle had a preferred shareholder status (within UB), which included representatives on the board," Mallya said. "That has now fallen away - Heineken does not inherit that status. Heineken becomes an ordinary shareholder. I think they would, understandably so, want to have a preferred shareholder status with us. That's what we're negotiating right now.

When asked if there is any uncertainty over Heineken's stake inheritance, Mallya said: "There's no issue at all. They're still in the process of completing their takeover of S&N, so it was rather premature before even the shareholders voted for it, which was only at the end of last month.

"It's early days yet," Mallya added. "But I have an excellent relationship with (Heineken CEO) Jean-Francois van Boxmeer. There shouldn't be any roadblocks."