InBrew in talks to buy Diageo India’s US$300m low–margin brands

INDIA – Inbrew Beverages is emerging as the leading bidder for a portfolio of Indian brands being sold by Diageo Plc, Bloomberg has reported citing people familiar with the matter. 

Inbrew which acquired Molson Coors’s Indian beer business for an undisclosed amount last year is poised to beat out rival suitors including several private equity funds, the people said.  

The assets which are mostly comprised of lower-margin brands such as Bagpiper whisky, White Mischief vodka and Haywards could fetch about US$300 million, the people said,  

Diageo’s Indian arm United Spirits Ltd. has been seeking a buyer for lower-margin brands including Bagpiper whisky, White Mischief vodka and Haywards, one of the people said. 

United Spirits initiated a strategic review of selected brands in February, the company said in an exchange filing on Wednesday.  

The review, which is expected to be completed by the end of March, will take into consideration all options to deliver sustainable long-term profitable growth, it added. 

Inbrew is negotiating final terms of a deal and could reach an agreement as soon as the coming weeks, according to the people.  

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The company led by Indian entrepreneur Ravi Deol Talks has however not made any binding agreements with the company therefore talks could still fall apart or another buyer could emerge.  

In keeping with the changed narrative and consumer expectations, Diageo has been reinventing how it markets its brands in India and reshaping its portfolio. 

 For instance, to address the new millennial consumer, Johnnie Walker has launched a campaign called ReVibe the Night. Meanwhile Signature has been renovated based on nature and sustainability. 

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The company also recently announced an investment of Rs 31.5 crore (US$4.13m) to acquire a strategic minority stake of 22.5 per cent in Nao Spirits, an emerging craft gin company in India. 

Launched in 2016, Nao Spirits is an emerging botanical infused gin company, and Diageo sees the brand as well-placed to embrace the fast-growing premium gin category in India. 

United Spirits has reported a 22.6 per cent rise in net sales for the nine months ended December 31, 2021 on a year-on-year basis amid recovering consumer demand, the company’s focus on premium brands and rising at-home consumption. 

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