Blog: Chris Brook-CarterIndian dream

Chris Brook-Carter | 23 March 2005

Vijay Mallya, a man who has business interests in horseracing, aviation, software, publishing, fashion and music, today created the world’s second largest spirits producer when his company McDowell & Co. Ltd agreed to buy a controlling stake in Indian rival Shaw Wallace.

For US$195m McDowell is buying a 54% stake in Shaw Wallace from its founder, Jumbo World Holdings Ltd. It is also launching an open offer to buy another 25% from public shareholders, which will take the cost of the total deal to nearer US$300m.

The money will propel Mallya’s holding company UB Group into the number two slot in the global spirits game behind only Diageo, after he merges Shaw Wallace with the group's existing liquor companies McDowell & Co, Herbertsons Ltd and unlisted firm Triumph Distillers & Vintners Ltd.

With global sales in the region of 60m cases, the merged entity will also control some 60% of the Indian spirits market – one of the fastest growing and potentially most attractive markets in the world.

"The merger gives us economies of scale and allows us to cut costs, improve our profits and give customers better value for money," said Mallya.

But the deal will also propel UB into the international limelight as well as.

In December, the UK brewer Scottish & Newcastle signed an agreement with the UB group to buy a 37.5% stake in its beer subsidiary United Breweries Ltd for US$177m. Following this latest deal, the international spirits community will be keen to see if a similar deal can be done with the liquor subsidiary.

Mallya was questioned yesterday on whether he would consider selling a stake to an international investor, but would only say: "We will do it if the price is right and it makes sense."


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