Slaughter and May is advising London-based Diageo Plc., maker of Johnnie Walker scotch and Tanqueray gin, on its proposed $2.1 billion purchase of a majority stake in India’s largest liquor company, United Spirits Ltd.
United Spirits is owned by UB Group, the Indian company led by tycoon Vijay Mallya and which also includes United Breweries and Kingfisher Airlines.
Media reports have said Mallya is seeking to raise cash to repay existing debts and fund his struggling airline. Meanwhile, Diageo has been seeking a chance to expand its footprint in a key emerging market.
Diageo will first acquire a 27.4 percent stake in United Spirits for $1.1 billion, and then hold a tender offer for USL’s public shareholders in order to buy another 26 percent of the company. The British company intends to purchase as many as 37.8 million shares at a price of $26.48 apiece, worth as much as another $1 billion.
If the tender is fully subscribed, Diageo will control a 53.4 majority share of USL.
Slaughter and May’s work on the deal was led by London partners Simon Nicholls, Robin Ogle and Padraig Cronin. Finance partners Stephen Powell and Edward Fife, tax partner Sara Luder, intellectual property partner Susie Middlemiss, employment partner Charles Cameron and real estate partner David Waterfield also acted for Diageo on the transaction. The firm also advised Diageo on its acquisition of Turkish liquor company Mey Içki last year for $2.1 billion.
Indian firm Platinum Partners advised Diageo on local law, with partners Nihar Mody and Yash Mohanram leading the team.
Amarchand & Mangaldas & Suresh A. Shroff & Co. managing partner Cyril Shroff and partner Nivedita Rao are advising United Spirits in India. Herbert Smith Freehills partner Alan Montgomery served as counsel for the company on English law.