ibnlive » Business

Jul 10, 2012 at 02:08pm IST

Vijay Mallya may sell RCB stake to escape debt trap

Bangalore: After the financial turbulence at Kingfisher Airlines, Chairman Vijay Mallya's United Spirits is looking at reducing its debt and bringing back the good times. It may even sell its stake in its Indian Premier League (IPL) team Royal Challenges Bangalore (RCB).

Vijay Mallya's acquisition of the brand White & Mackay helped United Spirits reach the top of the global pyramid, but it came at a cost. Its debt has surpassed Rs 7,000 crore and the company is looking at monetising its non core assets to bring this down to manageable levels.

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When the price is right, these assets could well include treasury stocks, a stake in United Breweries, and even a stake in its cricket franchise Royal Challengers Bangalore - all worth between Rs 1,500 and Rs 2,000 crore.

Ashok Capoor, President & MD, USL, said, "We have non core assets we can monetise anytime - treasury stocks, UBL stocks, Royal Challengers. But we will not do any selling at this stage. We will only sell when the price and timing are right to bring our debt down in the future.

That's not all. After touching 120 million cases in volume sales last fiscal, USL is now shifting focus to margins. So the sales target 200 million cases by FY 16 is taking a back seat. USL will drive brands that will contribute to revenues, even if they don't add to the volumes initially.

Ashok Capoor said, "We are chasing value, brands that are more premium and the trend is also towards premiumisation, so with that agenda I don't think we will do 200 million cases by FY 16. It will be less than that."

The company is also hoping that input costs will stabilise this year, making its job much easier.

In 2011, the prices of key input elements, extra neutral alcohol or ena and glass, rose significantly, forcing USL to opt for an aggressive, higher-than-usual, 3.5 per cent price hike. But USL says both ena prices and glass availability are improving this year and as they say - every drop counts.

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