Slaughter & May has advised Diageo Plc on its agreement to buy a majority stake in United Spirits Ltd, controlled by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya, for $2.1 billion, fuelling a push by the world's biggest spirits group into fast-growing markets.
Platinum Partners acted as Indian counsel to Diageo. United Spirits was represented by Amarchand & Mangaldas, and Herbert Smith Freehills as Indian and international counsel respectively.
Reuters reported that Diageo, which first tried to buy United Spirits in 2008, would end up with 53.4 percent of India's largest spirits company in a two-part deal. The Johnnie Walker and Guinness owner has been focusing on emerging markets where a growing middle class is developing a taste for more expensive drinks. Diageo has also been in talks to buy leading tequila maker Jose Cuervo.
If the deal gets regulatory and shareholder approval, it will be the biggest inbound Indian M&A deal since British oil firm Cairn Energy Plc sold a majority stake in its Indian business to Vedanta Resources Plc last year.
The main regulation issue is around United Spirits' Whyte and Mackay whisky, which Diageo - the world's biggest scotch company - would likely have to sell. Reuters quoted Diageo Chief Executive Paul Walsh as saying that the takeover did not hinge on Whyte and Mackay.
The Slaughter and May team was led by corporate partners Simon Nicholls, Robin Ogle and Padraig Cronin, who were supported by financing partners Stephen Powell and Ed Fife, tax partner Sara Luder, IP partner Susie Middlemiss, pensions and employment partner Charles Cameron and real estate partner David Waterfield. The Platinum Partners team was led by Nihar Mody, Yash Mohanram and Piusha Bose.
Meanwhile, the Amarchand & Mangaldas team was led by Mumbai-based Managing Partner Cyril Shroff, and included Bangalore-based corporate partner Nivedita Rao and Mumbai-based competition law partner Nisha Kaur Uberoi. The Herbert Smith Freehills team was led by partners Alan Montgomery and Roddy Martin, along with the firm's India practice chairman Chris Parsons.
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