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UB to acquire French wine firm

Mallya on Friday said UB Group was looking to acquire a "small portion" of the Taittinger Group -- a wine company in France.

india Updated: Jun 30, 2006 12:26 IST

Over a fortnight after it opted out of the race to acquire Champagne Taittinger of France, Vijay Mallya-controlled UB Group is now looking to buyout the French brewer's wine company for $15 million (Rs 68 crore).

Mallya on Friday said UB Group was looking to acquire a "small portion" of the Taittinger Group -- a wine company in France.

"We are looking to acquire this company over the next few weeks," he told reporters on the sidelines of CII-organised "The India Innovation Summit 2006". "The reason (for the acquisition) is, it gets United Spirits into high quality wines which we will import and sell in Indian market."

Asked if UB is still in the race for acquiring champagne assets of Taittinger, Mallya replied in the negative.

"We bid but (French bank) Credit Agricole was the winning bidder. There is a sentiment that champagne assets should remain in French hands. So, we gracefully bowed out of the process. I am not prepared to get into a bidding war because that would have diluted shareholder value of United Spirits. That was something I was not prepared to do," he said.

Mallya said the proposed acquisition of Taittinger's wine assets in France would also give UB access to wine technology of the highest order, which it will use to develop in its own vineyards and wineries in India in a proper and sustainable form.

"Its a small acquisition costing approximately $15 million which would be funded out of the company cash flows," he said.

Mallya said wine business is something that the company is going to focus on to address the emerging markets in India.

The UB Chairman said the company would concentrate on opportunities in China and Russia vis-a-vis its beverage alcohol products.

"We already are in advanced talks with a significant group in Russia (from) where we will import their products for sale in India and they will import our products," he said.

"We are in preliminary stage of establishing connections in China. I strongly believe our portfolio of beverage alcohol has a great market potential in China, in addition to Russia," he added.

First Published: Jun 16, 2006 16:44 IST