The plans of Vijay Mallya, Indian billionaire who owns United Spirits, to sell part of its beverage business is likely to help Diageo gain better ground in Indian whiskey market, where it represents abysmal sales.

Mallya expressed willingness to divest part of United Spirits to London-based Diageo to make up the continuous losses by his airline business, Kingfisher Airlines, reported Bloomberg.

The maker of Johnnie Walker Scotch, Diageo has tried to acquire stake in United Spirits earlier in 2009, which failed as the latter declined the offer citing it was quite low.

The missed opportunity is now back for Diageo to strengthen its foothold in the $21bn Indian whiskey market, where it trails Pernod Ricard (RI) SA.

Diageo’s president Indian region Gilbert Ghostine said the deal if completes successfully would help the company reach its goal of driving more sales in the Asian whiskey market from the present 14% to 20% by 2015.

It is also believed that Vijay Mallya may opt to put up United Spirits’ Whyte & Mackay Scotch whisky brand for sale in case the Diageo proposal fails once again, Bloomberg reported citing analysts.

Domestic brands such as McDowell’s and Bagpiper are the top-selling whiskeys in India, which could be more due to the consumer preference and the heavy taxes, of around 150% import tax, for Non-Indian brands.