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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 February 2007, 13:04 GMT
Indian eyes Scottish whisky giant
Vijay Mallya
Mr Mallya's United Breweries is the world's third-biggest spirits group
An Indian businessman could be the owner of one of the UK's most famous whisky firms within two weeks, according to press reports.

Vijay Mallya has been linked with Glasgow-based Whyte & Mackay since last year but is set to clinch a deal.

Mr Mallya's UB Group is reportedly scrutinising the firm's books ahead of a 550m takeover.

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

Mr Mallya also owns the Kingfisher beer labels, an airline and a fashion label.


Whyte & Mackay said in October 2006 that it had received an unsolicited offer from UB Group.

Now newspaper reports say a deal is believed to have been agreed and that "the formalities would be completed within a fortnight".

P.A. Murali, chief financial officer of UB Spirits confirmed that the process of looking at Whyte & Mackay's books, known as due diligence, is underway.

But he said it would be "speculative" to comment on when an agreement would be signed.

A statement from Whyte & Mackay's chairman and chief executive said "We remain the owners of Whyte & Mackay and are still considering all of our options. The value of the business increases all the time."

UB Group dominates the Indian spirits market, which is the world's largest for whisky.

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

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