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4 players interested in USL stake: Mallya

Press Trust Of India  |  New Delhi 

Vijay Mallya

Liquor baron Vijay Mallya has said four global spirits makers including Diageo, the world’s largest, have shown interest in acquiring a stake in United Spirits Ltd (USL) promoted by him.

“United Spirits Ltd (USL) has received expressions of interest from four parties,” UB Group Chairman Vijay Mallya told PTI.

All of them are serious about it, he said but declined to give the names of the three other interested parties. “It would be inappropriate to disclose further details at this stage,” Mallya said.

According to company officials, the group is open to selling up to 14.9 per cent of a total of 17 per cent of treasury stocks in USL to strategic partners.

Treasury stocks are those shares which are traded by the company in open market and these shares don’t receive bonus and don’t have voting rights.

They said Mallya and his senior team comprising UB Group CFO Ravi Nedungadi, USL President and Managing Director Vijay Rekhi, and USL CFO PA Murali have already held one round of meeting with their Diageo counterparts in New York in the last week of January for the stake sale. Mallya also indicated that UB Group is ready to sell more than 15 per cent stake in USL.

“I am very comfortable with any level of shareholding that a strategic investor such as Diageo may wish to have in United Spirits, as long as their total equity does not exceed the promoter’s holding,” he said.

According to the industry sources, Mallya is interested in selling the stake in USL to raise funds to retire debt.

UB Group holds around 38 per cent in United Spirits, the country’s largest liquor manufacturer.

United Spirits has over 150 products in its portfolio, including the brands Black Dog, Signature, Royal Challenge and Romanov.

First Published: Mon, March 09 2009. 00:38 IST