Sept. 21--United Spirits Ltd , India's biggest distiller, is set to name former Cadbury India Ltd head Anand Kripalu as its new managing director and chief executive officer within a few days, marking Diageo Plc 's most significant move as United Spirits ' largest shareholder, according to two persons familiar with the matter.
Kripalu may be presented to United Spirits' shareholders at the company's annual meeting in Bangalore on Tuesday, said one of the two persons, who has direct knowledge of the matter. Both persons declined to be identified.
However, the company is yet to finalize the date of his appointment as CEO, the two people said. Until then, Ashok Capoor will continue as United Spirits' top leader.
A UB Group spokesperson said by email, "we have no comment except to say that there is no proposal to cut short Ashok Capoor's term as managing director and CEO which runs till April 2014."
Diageo declined to comment.
Mint first reported on 23 July that Diageo, maker of Johnnie Walker, Bushmills and Chivas whiskies, was considering appointing Kripalu as United Spirits' CEO.
Mondelez International Inc., the company which bought Cadbury over three-and-a-half years ago, said on 25 July that it named Manu Anand as president, India and South Asia, and managing director of Cadbury India, replacing Kripalu, who left the company for another assignment.
Diageo, the world's largest distiller, completed its purchase of a 25.02% stake in United Spirits in July from the company and promoter Vijay Mallya, after the deal was first announced in November. As part of the deal, Diageo has the right to appoint the CEO and chief financial officer at United Spirits, as well as some board members.
After completing the acquisition and replacing Mallya as United Spirits' largest shareholder, Diageo has been increasing the company's focus on compliance with laws and corporate governance best practices.
The UK-based distiller moved as many as 100 UB Group executives off the payrolls of United Spirits and transferred them to United Breweries Holdings Ltd in August.
When contacted over the phone, Anand Kripalu declined to comment.
"It was expected that Diageo would get its own top management in place and this is a positive move," said said Nikhil Vora, managing director and head, research, IDFC Ltd. "Investors are looking forward to Diageo gaining financial, operational and management control at USL and it seems that out of the core USL team, Diageo will only retain (the CFO) P.A. Murali."
United Spirits has also changed the CEO at its UK-based subsidiary Whyte and Mackay. Whyte and Mackay this week appointed Bryan Donaghey as its new chief executive officer replacing John Beard. Immediately before getting this role, Donaghey was the managing director of the Scotland business of Diageo.
The UB Group spokesperson cited above confirmed Donaghey's appointment, which was earlier reported by the website just-drinks.com.
United Spirits purchased Whyte & Mackay for Â£595 million in 2007. The deal piled debt onto United Spirits' balance sheet and the high interest costs eroded margins and limited the company's spending on marketing and advertising.
The Bangalore-based company, which controls over half of India's liquor market, is using a majority of the proceeds from its stake sale to Diageo to reduce its borrowings.
Over the past few months, media reports have speculated that United Spirits may be forced to sell part or whole of Whyte & Mackay to get its deal with Diageo approved by Britain's competition regulators.
The UK is looking into the United Spirits-Diageo deal for possible violation of anti-monopoly regulations. Whyte & Mackay is one of largest whiskey distillers in the UK with brands such as Jura and its eponymous scotch and single malts.