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Thursday, Sep 30, 2004

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Mallya claims deal with Chhabria on control in Herbertsons Ltd

Our Bureau

Bangalore , Sept. 29

THE UB group Chairman, Mr Vijay Mallya, has claimed to have reached an agreement with Mr Kishore Rajaram Chhabria in a 10 year-old dispute regarding control over Herbertsons Ltd and said that he was ready to merge the company along with Triumph Distillers & Vintners Ltd with his flagship company, McDowell & Co Ltd.

Mr Mallya said that the consolidation of his group's spirits interests was a prelude to its global ambitions, which will be uncorked soon.

According to the UB group Chairman, a settlement with Mr Chhabria to acquire the latter's shares in Herbertsons was in place and the lawyers of both sides were working out the details.

"We will file an affidavit before the Supreme Court giving details of the settlement," he told newspersons on the sidelines of McDowell & Co Ltd's AGM on Wednesday.

However, the Kishore Chhabria camp failed to confirm a deal even as it said that talks were on for amicable resolution.

Sources said that both camps were yet to shake hands on the value of the share transaction and hectic efforts were on to strike a deal. The apex court is slated to resume hearing in the case in early October.

Post merger, Mr Mallya plans to take McDowell & Co to the overseas markets in a big way. He will look to acquire a few international spirits brands.

"We are looking to acquire `tail brands' of leading international distillers. For instance, we are interested in taking over brands in value Scotch segments and other categories with regional presence in parts of Europe and South East Asia."

Further, McDowell itself is foraying into neighbouring markets like Sri Lanka and the larger Asean market in the near future, Mr Mallya added.

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