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Last Updated: Monday, 9 October 2006, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
Whyte & Mackay gets Indian offer
Vijay Mallya
Mr Mallya's United Breweries is the world's third biggest spirits group
Scottish distiller Whyte & Mackay has confirmed that Indian drinks magnate Vijay Mallya has made a takeover bid.

Chairman Vivian Immerman denied reports that his company had been sold to Mr Mallya's United Breweries, but said he had made an unsolicited bid.

Whyte & Mackay's brands include the Jura and Dalmore single malt whiskies, Vladivar Vodka and Glayva liqueur.

United Breweries (UB) dominates the Indian spirits market, the world's largest for whisky.

UB is the world's third biggest shipper of spirits after Pernod Ricard and Diageo.

Mr Mallya also owns the Kingfisher beer brand airline, a fashion label and other industrial businesses.

Whyte & Mackay is an attractive proposition because it has a large stock of aged single malt whisky, which could be blended with Indian-produced whisky to improve the flavour and add a touch of authenticity.

Indian tariffs

India's surging economy and fast-growing middle class has produced greater demand for more expensive imported whisky brands.

But Scottish whisky only has a 1% foothold in the Indian market because of the tariffs imposed by national and state governments there.

India is the world's largest market for whisky

Mr Mallya is a member of parliament in India and has previously spoken out in favour of protecting the Indian spirits market from Scottish imports.

"The liquor industry has gone through quite a growth spurt, especially in Asia, and we are reviewing all our strategic options," said Mr Immerman.

"It's fair to say we are taking his interest in our business very seriously. He makes good quality products in his business, and has some of the biggest volumes in the world."

Mr Immerman added that other bidders were interested in buying parts of the business, which includes a distillery and own-label whisky operation as well as its brands.

He said that the company was at a "fairly advanced" stage in deciding what its forward strategy would be.

It recently invested 110m in a restructuring and relaunch of its brands.

White & Mackay has about 9% of the worldwide Scotch whisky market.

Mr Immerman is the main investor in the company, along with Iranian property tycoon Robert Tchenguiz.

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