United Spirits, the India-based spirits giant, is looking to raise US$350m via a share issue to help pay down debt accrued by its acquisition of Whyte & Mackay.

United Spirits said today (23 October) that its board of directors has approved the issue of almost 17.7m shares under a qualified institutional placement.

The group, which controls more than two thirds of India's spirits market, is looking to raise $350m as part of its deleveraging strategy.

Last week, a United Spirits spokesperson told just-drinks the firm had opted for a share placement after talks with private equity firms on an equity stake sale broke down.

The collapse of private equity talks follows a breakdown of negotiations between United Spirits and Diageo in August.

United Spirits, which recently reported a 52% rise in first quarter net profits, needs to raise funds to help pay down a US$625m loan taken out to fund the group's US$1.18bn buyout of Scotch whisky distiller Whyte & Mackay in 2007.

United Spirits is part of Indian billionaire Vijay Mallya's UB Group.