just On Call: United Spirits' Mallya - "I have not sold the family silver"
Mallya dismissed the notion he has "sold the family jewels"
During a media conference call earlier today (9 November), Mallya said: “I would like to very clearly state I have not sold the family silver, or family jewels, I have only embellished them.”
He was later pushed again on the issue and pointed out that Diageo's bid to acquire 53.4% of his spirits company was a “partnership”. “If you have a percpetion that I have sold out.. I think that is not the correct impression,” Mallya told journalists. “I have recognised Diageo's consolidation needs and they have agreed wholeheartedly to support us. I think you need to make that distinction.”
Earlier, he had said the deal was a “win,win” for both companies. “Diageo and me have been friends for a number of years. The idea of getting together...was discussed some six year ago.
"I'm personally very happy that the dream has come true.”
The businessman also played down any regulatory concerns over the deal. “Given the government of India is very keen on foreign direct investment, I think they should be giving us the relative regulatory permissions fairly rapidly,” he said.
Mallya's conglomerate UB Group also owns the troubled Kingfisher Airlines, but he said there is no “cross contamination” with the Diageo deal. “I've done the best for my spirits busines. We will address Kingfisher separately,” he said.
On the spirits business, Mallya, who is also a member of India's parliament, said that the “large cash infusion” it receives will “help the business deleverage itself”.
He concluded by saying: "I'm happily going to embrace the Diageo brand and we will do whatever I can to make sure their sales and market leadership is retained in India.”
Ivan Menezes, Diageo's COO, who was also on the call, said that India has the potential to become the group's biggest market “in the long-term”. India is currently Diageo's second-largest exposure, behind the US.
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