United Spirits responds to sale rumours

Diageo’s Indian arm, United Spirits, said its strategic review of select brands is ‘ongoing’ after a report named a frontrunner for the sale, which is due to be completed by the end of this month.

Diageo’s Indian subsidiary, United Spirits, began a strategic review of around 15 brands in February 2021, as part of its strategy to improve profitability.

The Diageo-controlled subsidiary said the review will cover a selection of its Popular brands, which consist of approximately 30 marques. However, only half of the segment will be under review, excluding Indian whiskies McDowell’s and Director’s Special.

A Bloomberg report yesterday (15 March) cited anonymous sources that named Inbrew Beverages as the leading bidder for United Spirits’ Indian brands, including Indian whiskies Bagpiper and Haywards, and White Mischief vodka.

In a regulatory filing today, United Spirits issued a clarification regarding the media report.

The statement said the firm “is considering all options to deliver sustainable long-term profitable growth” and expects the review to be completed by 31 March 2022.

“The company is mindful of its disclosure obligations under SEBI [Securities and Exchange Board of India] regulations and would update the stock exchange if and when any event occurs that requires stock exchange intimation,” it added.

The Spirits Business has approached Inbrew Beverages for comment.

In February last year, brewing giant Molson Coors sold its Indian unit to Inbrew.

The rumoured move comes a day after Diageo India acquired a minority stake in Nao Spirits, producer of gins Greater Than and Hapusa, for INR 31.5 crores (US$4.1 million).

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Author: Nicola Carruthers