United Spirits Ends Diageo Talks, Continues with PE Firms

(Reuters) – United Spirits (UNSP.BO), the world’s third-largest spirits maker by volume, has called off talks to sell a stake to Diageo (DGE.L) but discussions with private equity firms were continuing, a top official said.

The firm decided to stop discussions with Diageo, the world’s largest spirits group, after it sold shares worth almost $190 million in late June, group Chief Financial Officer Ravi Nedungadi said by phone.

“Our business is growing at 18-20 percent annually. We are on course to turn the No. 2 firm by the end of the year,” he said. “We decided the strategic stake sale can be addressed leisurely when the firm commands higher valuation.”

In May, a Diageo executive said talks had not made headway as the firms were unable to agree on details.

United Spirits, part of India’s top liquor maker, the UB group, had talked with KKR, Blackstone (BX.N) and Capital International about selling a stake, a newspaper reported in July.

(Reporting by Narayanan Somasundaram; Editing by John Mair)