Dutch brewer Heineken has increased its equity stake in United Breweries Ltd by acquiring an additional 0.8 per cent stake through open market transaction on Wednesday, further firming up its grip over the Kingfisher beer maker.
Heineken shelled out around Rs 179 crore (approximately $27 million) to pick the shares. It bought stake stake from an NBFC arm of Edelweiss. It could not be immediately ascertained if the seller offloaded a part of the stake pledged by Vijay Mallya, the co-promoter of United Breweries. Mallya, who faces several charges over bank debt raised by group firms and is currently in the UK after being labelled as a 'wilful defaulter' by several banks, has been slowly losing his grip on what is his last big company in India.
He has already lost control of United Spirits and recently stepped down from the board after a tussle with Diageo.
Meanwhile, with the latest share purchase, Heineken's stake has risen to around 43 per cent in India’s largest brewer amid rumours that Heineken will ask Mallya to step down from the board.
Heineken is the largest share holder in United Breweries. On the other side, Mallya and his associate companies held 32.45 per cent equity stake in United Breweries as on December 31, 2015. Early this year this shrunk further.
VCCircle had reported last April that Heineken is preparing to raise its holding in the firm. At that time it held 38.85 per cent in the company.
On Wednesday, United Breweries' scrip declined 0.93 per cent to end the day at Rs 834.75 a share on BSE in a flat Mumbai market.
Heineken International is a Dutch brewing company. It owns over 119 breweries in more than 65 countries.
The company brews and sells more than 170 international premium, regional, local and specialty beers, including Cruzcampo, Tiger Beer, Starobrno, Zagorka, Birra Moretti, chota, Murphy’s, Star and of course Heineken Pilsener. The company was founded in 1864 and is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands.