Promoters up UB stake to 51.8% as S&N accepts $15.4 bn offer

Written by Corporate Bureau | Bangalore, Jan 25 | Updated: Jan 26 2008, 05:44am hrs
The promoters of the countrys leading brewers, United Breweries (UB) Holdings, will raise their stake in the company to 51.82% following the decision by UKs largest brewer Scottish & Newcastle Plc (S&N) to accept the 7.8-billion -pound ($15.4 billion) offer from a consortium comprising Carlsberg and Heineken. The promoters currently have a 50.35% stake in UB Holdings, while Scottish & Newcastle has a 37.5% stake. This will now move to Netherlands-based Heineken under the takeover agreement. S&Ns shareholders will receive 800 pence in cash for each share.

On Friday, the company informed stock exchanges that they had received a request from FirStart Inc, a member of the promoter group, to exercise the option to convert 1,971,218 warrants into equity shares of the company. The exercise price for the conversion would be Rs 999 per warrant.

In the annual general meeting held on November 28, 2007, UB Holdings had issued 6,387,117 warrants of Rs 10 each to FirStart Inc, with the option to convert them into equity shares within 18 months from the date of issue.

Meanwhile, UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya said that they welcomed the fact that they would now associate themselves with Heineken. Heineken is one of the worlds leading beer brands and there is great potential for combining the strengths of the two companies to participate in the exciting future of the Indian beer market, he said in a statement here on Friday. Mallya said Heineken would be a potential shareholder of United Breweries Ltd on terms that are yet to be discussed and agreed.

But some of the analysts were of the view that Mallya would not like to give away his controlling stake and may go for buy back of shares. In fact, UB Group chief financial officer told one of the private TV channels that they were not looking at giving the management control to Carlsberg & Heineken. The UB Group has recently been on an acquisition spree buying Scottish firm Whyte & Mackay and French wine maker Bouvet Ladubay. It has also acquired Deccan Aviation and merged it with Kingfisher Airlines.

United Breweries Ltd has posted a net profit of Rs 69 lakh for the third quarter ended December 2007 on a total income of Rs 306.34 crore. The operating brewing entities managed by UBL as a combined beer business include Millennium Alcobev Private Ltd, Millennium Beer Industries Ltd, Empee Breweries Ltd and United Millennium Breweries Ltd.