The chief operating officer of Radico Khaitan has played down suggestions that the company's joint-venture with Diageo in India is under threat.

The UB Group has confirmed this week that it is in exclusive talks with Diageo, with speculation that the UK-based drinks giant is hoping to acquire a stake in UB.

Speaking to just-drinks last month, UB chairman Vijay Mallya said that for a deal with Diageo to proceed, then the UK firm would have to pull out of its joint-venture with Radico Khaitan.

Radico Khaitan's Raju Vaziraney told just-drinks today (14 November) that the joint-venture "is in place and we're going to make it strong", however. Speaking on the sidelines of the Indspirit conference in Mumbai, he said that "other things are only market speculation".

His comments were echoed by Diageo India's managing director, Adil Asif. "We are re-energising Masterstroke in the country," Asif said. "Our focus as a company in India is to make sure we (the joint-venture) have winning strategies in place."

When asked about Mallya's take on the matter, Vaziraney said: "I can't comment on a third-party comment. I think it's only market speculation, there's nothing happening."

Fifteen months ago, the joint-venture released its first brand, Masterstroke whisky, into the Indian market. Vaziraney professed himself happy with the brand's performance so far. "In the last fiscal year, we sold close to 2.5 lakh (1 lakh = 100,000) cases of Masterstroke," he said.

"Our first offering in the market is very young. The objective remains to consolidate our brand and then look for further strengthening of the j-v. We have our eyes on bringing in more offerings in the future."

Diageo and Radico Khaitan teamed up in August 2006 to form a 50:50 joint venture to "exploit the large and developing Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) segment", the companies said at the time.