India's biggest distiller to buy French winemaker

16th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

BANGALORE, India, June 16, 2006 (AFP) - India's biggest distiller, United Breweries Group, said Friday it will acquire winemaker Bouvet-Ladubay, a subsidiary of French champagne group Taittinger that it sought to buy earlier, for US $15 million.

BANGALORE, India, June 16, 2006 (AFP) - India's biggest distiller, United Breweries Group, said Friday it will acquire winemaker Bouvet-Ladubay, a subsidiary of French champagne group Taittinger that it sought to buy earlier, for US $15 million.

"We are looking to acquire this company over the next few weeks," UB chief Vijay Mallya told reporters in this southern Indian city.

"It will enable United Breweries to get into high quality premium wine which we will import and sell in (the) Indian market. It will also give us access to wine technology of the higest order," Mallya said.

He said the technology will be used to develop Indian vineyards.

Founded 1851, Bouvet-Ladubay was described as one of the most respected wine-producing firms in France's Loire Valley.

Mallya said his firm also was looking at opportunities in Russia, China and South Africa.

"We are already in advanced talks with a significant group in Russia to import their products into India and they will sell our products in Russia," he said. "We are in the preliminary stages of establishing our presence in China."

In May, United Breweries Group, which also has interests in construction and an airline named after its leading beer brand, Kingfisher, shelved plans to buy Taittinger after French regional bank Crédit Agricole du Nord Est topped its bid.

"Crédit Agricole was the winning bidder. There is a sentiment that champagne assets should remain in France," Mallya said.

"So we peacefully bowed out of the process. I was not prepared to get into a bidding war because that would have diluted the shareholder value for United Breweries. That was not something I was prepared to do," he said.

He said he did not foresee any hurdles for the acqusition of Bouvet-Ladubay.

"Champagne is very different to normal wine. Champagne is tightly controlled ... in France and it cannot be produced anywhere else in the world so, I can understand if the French are somewhat possessive about it," Mallya said.

United Breweries — the world's third-largest spirits producer and with 60 percent of the Indian market — offered an estimated 30 billion rupees (US $660 million) to acquire Taittinger.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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