Mallya to bid for Taittinger brewery

UB group chief Vijay Mallya has made a bid to acquire European brewery Taittinger for nearly Rs 3,000 crore.

india Updated: May 24, 2006 11:34 IST

Aiming to reduce the gap between his group and the world's largest spirit company Diageo, UB group chief Vijay Mallya on Tuesday said he has made a bid to acquire European brewery Taittinger for nearly Rs 3,000 crore.

Mallya, whose UB Group emerged as the second-largest spirits producer in the world, said that he has also zeroed in on a South African winery that would give an edge to his group in the African continent.

He said the acquisitions would give him a crucial network and distribution channel in these continents where he had restricted presence.

"Taittinger has got a huge distribution channel in France, all over Europe... I can sell United Spirit products using that distribution channel," Mallya said, adding the valuation was close to around Rs 3,000 crore.

About Six bidders had been shortlisted for Taittinger buyout and market sources have said Mallya's bid was the highest.

US-based Starwood Capital which had acquired Taittinger last year, plans to sell the company, globally selling around 4.5 billion bottles of champagne and wine a year.

About the South African acquisition, Mallya said he had studied the market and zeroed in on a winery there.

"The South African acquisition makes a lot of sense as we know the market there. We have a big brewery company. We know the distribution network and this acquisition will be an added advantage to me," Mallya said, adding discussions were going on.

Last year, UB Group had acquired Shaw Wallace for $354 million, which made the Indian liquor major the world's second largest liquor group.

The Group has re-launched its vodka brand Romanov, which has 30 per cent share in the domestic vodka market and is planning to export it.

"With Romanov and White Mischief, we have over 78 per cent market share in Vodka. We will be coming out with a "diet version" of Romanov soon. It is triple distilled absolute vodka that mixes easily," Mallya said.

"Consumer demand for vodka is increasing and we are looking at more avenues in the country as well as abroad to introduce the product," he said.

The company is eyeing young consumers and has already started selling Romanov in China.

United Spirits, the company formed after the merger of McDowell, Herbertsons, Triumph Distillers and Vintners and Shaw Wallace has 130 liquor brands with sales exceeding 60 million cases annually.

First Published: May 23, 2006 14:06 IST