Diageo strikes African beer deal as it waits for United Spirits call

Kasmira Jefford
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DIAGEO has formed a new South African joint venture with Vijay Mallya, the FTSE giant said yesterday, as it awaits approval to buy a majority stake in the Indian tycoon’s drinks business United Spirits.

The owner of brands such as Johnnie Walker whisky and Smirnoff vodka, confirmed it has signed a £23m deal to buy a 50 per cent stake in the firm that owns United National Breweries’ traditional sorghum beer business in South Africa.

A firm affiliated to Mallya will own the remaining 50 per cent in the brewing business.

The deal, which is subject to approval from South African regulators, is expected to complete in the first half of this year.

The agreement is part of Diageo’s wider £1.3bn deal for a majority stake in United Spirits, announced in November last year.

The initial tender offer timetable was postponed earlier this month and Diageo is now understood to be caught up in talks with the Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), which could delay its acquisition until the second quarter of this year.