United fuels bid rumours

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The Independent Online
UNITED Breweries, run by Vijay Mallya, is believed to be negotiating to buy full control of UBSN, the drinks distribution company jointly owned with Shepherd Neame, the Kent brewer, writes John Shepherd. United had no comment.

UBSN's main drink is Kingfisher, the Indian lager widely sold in curry houses. Speculation about the purchase mounted yesterday as United announced it was considering restructuring its finances and was looking at possible acquisitions that could significantly broaden the base of its activities. United, which principally owns 75 pubs and is soon to report results, last stated its debts at pounds 8.5m - more than two- and-a-half times shareholders' funds.

Gearing, however, is understood to have been cut towards 100 per cent. The company said its aim was to tidy its package of loans carrying variable rates of interest.

United has also engaged Chestertons, the surveyors, to revalue its pub estate.

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