Industrialist Vijay Mallya, once India’s liquor king, has further lost grip on what is now his flagship business interest—Kingfisher beer maker United Breweries Ltd. United Breweries (Holdings) Ltd, the public listed holding arm of Mallya, sold around 0.74 per cent stake in India’s top beer maker for Rs 186 crore ($28 million), as per filings with stock exchanges.
The shares were acquired by an arm under ICICI Bank. It could not be immediately ascertained if the deal represents shares pledged with the lender being invoked or a standalone share sale by Mallya.
Two years ago, lenders had sold pledged stake representing around 0.34 per cent in United Breweries.
With latest transaction, Mallya’s direct and indirect holding in United Breweries has shrunk to around 32 per cent.
Last July, Diageo-controlled United Spirits Ltd had sold its entire 3.21 per cent stake in the beer maker to Dutch brewer Heineken for Rs 872 crore ($137 million then). This gave Heineken, the world’s third-largest brewer and the single-largest shareholder of United Breweries, a larger play in the company with a holding of 42.06 per cent.
United Breweries houses a clutch of brands besides the flagship Kingfisher including Kalyani Black Label, Zingaro, Guru and Bullet.
Liquor king Mallya, who burnt his finger with a costly attempt to fly with now bankrupt Kingfisher Airlines and an ambitious overseas acquisition spree through United Spirits, still owns just under one-third of United Breweries.
He is currently locked in a boardroom battle with Diageo over some alleged irregularities on loans made by United Spirits to UB Group firms.
United Breweries’ scrip declined 0.9 per cent to end the day at Rs 940.40 a share on BSE, in a weak Mumbai market on Wednesday.