Heineken ups stake in Kingfisher beer maker for $23 mn

Dutch brewer Heineken has increased its equity stake in United Breweries Ltd by acquiring an additional 0.7% through an open market transaction on Friday, further firming up its grip over the Kingfisher beer maker.

Heineken shelled out around Rs 152 crore ($22.7 million) to pick the shares. It bought the stake from Yes Bank, stock exchange filings show. Heineken now owns 43.7% stake in United Breweries.

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. Last November, Yes Bank had invoked 3.02% stake of United Breweries, pledged by McDowell Holdings, a part of Mallya’s UB Group.

Separate email queries to Heineken and Yes Bank did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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 in February stepped down from its board after a tussle with Diageo.

UB Group held 30.86% stake in United Breweries as of June 30, 2016. That is currently worth Rs 6,756 crore or just over $1 billion.

This is the second such instance of Heineken take a swig of India’s top beer maker this year. In March, it had spent Rs 179 crore (approximately $27 million) to pick the 0.8% stake in United Breweries from an NBFC arm of Edelweiss.

In July 2015, it had bought Diageo-controlled United Spirits’ entire 3.21% stake in United Breweries for Rs 872 crore ($137 million).

VCCircle had reported in April 2015 that Heineken is preparing to raise its holding in the firm. At that time it held 38.85% in the company.

Heineken is the largest shareholder in United Breweries, which houses a clutch of brands besides the flagship Kingfisher including Kalyani Black Label, Zingaro, Guru and Bullet.

On Friday, United Breweries' scrip rose 0.85% to end the day at Rs 828.05 a share on BSE in a strong 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.

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