India's UB Group is close to finally sealing the takeover of UK distiller Whyte & Mackay, just-drinks understands.

UB, headed by Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya, has pursued Whyte & Mackay since starting takeover talks in October.

Reports in India claim that the acquisition of Whyte & Mackay will be sealed in anything ranging from a few days to a few weeks.

Just-drinks understands that UB has one or two regulatory hurdles to get over before finalising its due diligence on Whyte & Mackay and closing the deal. However, the obstacles are not believed to be insurmountable and the two sides look set to reach an agreement in the coming weeks.

Whyte & Mackay declined to comment, while UB officials failed to return a request for comment as just-drinks went to press.

However, UB CFO Ravi Nedungadi told the Bloomberg news agency that the group's United Spirits arm would buy 100% of the Whyte & Mackay business, which includes its namesake Scotch whisky, Vladivar vodka and stocks of blended whisky.

"We're acquiring the distilleries and the brands that are there," Nedungadi told Bloomberg yesterday (22 March). "It's an extensive business. Our intent is to get in as soon as we can."

Nedungadi added that Whyte & Mackay's stocks of whisky would help it strengthen its position in India, where it has dominated the country's spirits market.

However, UB is facing growing competition on its home turf. Diageo has formed a joint venture with Indian spirits group Radico Khaitan to produce Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) brands. Late last year, Beam Global Spirits & Wine also made its entry into the IMFL segment with the launch of a whisky brand called DYC.