Suntory Says Not in Talks to Buy Whyte & Mackay Whiskey

Suntory Holdings Ltd., which last week agreed to buy Beam Inc. for $16 billion, is not in talks to acquire the Whyte & Mackay business from India’s United Spirits Ltd., said Naoko Tsuda, a company spokeswoman.

Billionaire Nobutada Saji’s whiskey and soft-drinks company denied a report by India’s CNBC TV18 network yesterday that the Osaka-based company had offered to buy Scotch whisky maker Whyte & Mackay and valued it at less than $1 billion.

Diageo Plc, the world’s biggest distiller, last year agreed to buy a controlling stake in United Spirits that would give it control of Whyte & Mackay. The London-based company in November offered to sell most of the Whyte & Mackay whiskey business after U.K. regulators expressed competition concerns.

Prakash Mirpuri, a spokesman for Bangalore-based United Spirits and UB Group, declined to comment.

A court in India’s Karnataka state last month ruled Diageo’s purchase of a stake in United Spirits void, after a petition filed by creditor banks. In the order, the judges said a lower court didn’t have the jurisdiction to approve the deal when creditors had filed petitions seeking to wind up the company for non-payment of dues by its parent United Breweries Holdings Ltd. and group company Kingfisher Airlines Ltd.

Diageo and United Spirits have appealed the judgment, and India’s Supreme Court will hear further arguments on Jan. 31.

United Spirits in 2007 acquired Whyte & Mackay, gaining brands including W&M Scotch, Jura, Dalmore single highland malt and Vladivar vodka.

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