United Breweries may use Diageo deal funds to reduce KFA debt

Vijay Mallya

The United Breweries Group, parent of the grounded Kingfisher Airlines, said on Friday that it has not received any formal communication from the lenders of the airline regarding recovery proceedings of their outstanding loans.

"We have received no formal communication from the banks till date," the UB Group said. "We are in continuing discussions with them on ways to bring down their exposure, among other things, from the proceeds of the Diageo transaction."

The UB group also added that the banks support the Diageo deal and "would work with us in finding an orderly method of disposal of some of the pledged shares to Diageo, if appropriate".

The statement comes after pressure from the lenders increased in recent days. The lenders expect recovering upto R1,000 crore by monetising securities in the March quarter itself. "Selling securities given as collaterals is the plan," Shyamal Acharya, State Bank of India deputy managing director (mid-corporate accounts), said in Mumbai.

SBI chairman Pratip Chaudhuri had said at the same event that sale of shares of companies controlled by UB Group and held as collateral can help recover as much as R1,000 crore.

In November, the UB group and London-based Diageo agreed to a deal wherein the London-based liquor maker will acquire 53.4% stake in United Spirits for R11,166.5 crore. Of this, R2,400 crore would go to the United Breweries Holdings's balance sheet. Also, R3,300 crore will go to United Spirits but would be used to pare the company's debt.

At the time of the deal, group chairman Vijay Mallya said the sale of stake in United Spirits was not linked to the crisis at Kingfisher Airlines. "We will also address the needs of Kingfisher Airlines but these will be done separately for the good of the company and its stakeholders," Mallya had said.

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