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Sebi paves way for Diageo offer

Mumbai, Feb. 5: The Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi) has given its final observations on Diageo Plc’s plan to acquire 26 per cent in United Spirits (USL) from its minority shareholders, moving closer to the much-awaited open offer from the multinational spirits giant.

Sebi today said on its website that it had issued the final observations on the open offer, though it did not give details.

Capital market circles said the development paved the way for the open offer, but it did not mean that Diageo has won the final approval from Sebi.

“The acquirer has to now follow the observations made by the market regulator,’’ market sources said. The deal is also awaiting the nod from the Competition Commission of India.

Diageo had entered into an agreement with the UB group in November to acquire a majority stake in United Spirits. As part of the deal, Diageo would acquire a 27.4 per cent stake in USL at Rs 1,440 per share through a 12.8 per cent interest on the share capital of USL from UB Holdings Ltd and other members of its group and a 6.5 per cent interest on the share capital from the USL Benefit Trust and two subsidiaries of USL.

The agreement also included a preferential offer to Diageo through the issue of new shares.

Diageo was to make an open offer for 26 per cent of the USL shareholding at Rs 1,440 per share. The open offer, originally scheduled to open on January 7 and close on January 18, was for the purchase of around 3.8 crore shares totalling Rs 5,441 crore.

 
 
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