Dutch major Heineken moves to raise stake in United Breweries by buying shares from banks

With the special PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) court restoring to lenders the properties and securities of former liquor baron Vijay Mallya worth a total of ₹5,650 crore, Heineken — which owns nearly 47 per cent in United Breweries — is expected to use the opportunity to increase its shareholding in UB.

Dutch beer giant Heineken is learnt to have told Indian agencies that it is willing to buy the shares of Vijay Mallya as and when the courts allow the lenders to sell them. A UB spokesperson, however, said it does not comment on ownership issues. Mallya and related companies have an 11.04 per cent stake in United Breweries, of which 2.78 crore shares are pledged. The total value of the free and pledged shares is about ₹3,695 crore.

The SBI-led consortium of 14 banks has claimed that Mallya, who has fled to London, owes banks and other creditors ₹11,179 crore and ₹6,000 crore, respectively.

The properties restored to the lenders include, those in the UB City, a multi-use building worth ₹887 crore, the adjoining under-construction apartments in Kingfisher Tower (₹962 crore), a farmhouse in Alibaug near Mumbai (₹24 crore), and pledged and unpledged shares and many other properties owned by Mallya through various companies in Bengaluru.

Sources close to Heineken, which owns 46.69 per cent in UB, said the company is expected to increase its stake initially to over 50 per cent and later in tranches as and when the shares by the lenders are released in the market. Mallya himself owns an 8.08 per cent in UB, 98.11 per cent of which is pledged with the banks. The total shareholding of Mallya and his holdings is 11.04 per cent of which 95.21 per cent are pledged with the various banks.