UPDATE 1-Diageo exploring options to delist Indian arm - CNBC TV-18

(Adds Diageo comment, background on investors)

May 18 (Reuters) - Diageo Plc, the world’s largest spirits maker, is exploring options to delist its Indian arm, United Spirits Ltd, by buying out minority shareholders, CNBC TV-18 reported on Monday.

Diageo, the maker of Johnnie Walker whiskey and Tanqueray Gin, currently owns an about 56% stake in United Spirits after slowly building it up over several years.

The company has started talks with investment bankers and consultants on a delisting offer, the CNBC TV-18 report here said, citing sources familiar with the matter.

“The management believes that the current market conditions and the pricing of USL is conducive to a delisting and that’s why they are exploring this option,” the CNBC report said, citing a senior executive at the company who did not want to be named.

United Spirits’ shares were trading flat at 0825 GMT on India’s National Stock Exchange on Monday. The stock is down nearly 25% over the past three months, slightly outperforming the broader Nifty 50 index’s 27% decline.

UK-based Diageo’s shares were up 1.8% at 2,792 pence on the London Stock Exchange.

Diageo India said it would not comment on market rumours and speculation.

The unit counts the Indian government and institutional investors such as Vanguard Group among its minority shareholders.

Diageo’s move comes nearly a week after miner Vedanta Resources Ltd said it was delisting its Indian unit Vedanta Ltd , as it seeks to accelerate the simplification of its corporate structure amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Reporting by Siddharth Cavale and Chandini Monnappa in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M. and Maju Samuel)