Bisleri International chairman Ramesh Chauhan’s daughter Jayanti Chauhan will steer bottled water company now that Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) is no longer pursuing a buyout.
“Jayanti will run the company with our professional team and we do not want to sell the business,” Bisleri chairman Ramesh Chauhan told ET.
Jayanti Chauhan, 42, is vice chairperson at the company promoted and built by her father. She will work with the professional management team headed by chief executive Angelo George, said people with knowledge of the matter.
Chauhan, 82, had earlier agreed to sell the brand to the Tata Group for an estimated ₹7,000 crore. Tata Consumer called off the deal with India’s largest bottled water brand, attributing it to “indecisiveness,” ET reported on March 18, citing people with knowledge of the matter. There were no differences over valuation, they said.
Analysts said however that the promoters could change their mind in the future. “Let us wait and watch,” one of them said. “We are sure that interested buyers will continue to wait for an opportunity to buy the brand.”
Tata Consumer had begun talks with the Chauhan family two years ago but decided to call off negotiations last week.
Jayanti has over the years been involved periodically with the business. In recent years, she’s been engaged with growing the Vedika brand, part of the Bisleri portfolio.
Packaged Beverage Biz Seeing Strong Growth
Ramesh Chauhan had been keen that Tata take the legacy forward. He’s been keeping indifferent health of late and was looking to find a home for the brand with the same values. The Tata Group “will nurture and take care of it (Bisleri) even better,” he told ET in late November last year.
“Tata Consumer had bent over backwards to assure Chauhan that the legacy of Bisleri would continue under the Tata Group,” said one of the persons cited above. “But we had to finally call off this fence-sitting.”
The packaged beverages business has been growing in high double digits and sales have peaked on the back of an early summer and a surge in out-of-home-demand. “That too may have fuelled the promoters’ plans of being in the driver’s seat,” said the person cited above.
Tata Consumer managing director Sunil D’Souza has said on recent earnings calls that acquisitions remain core to the growth strategy, but it will not buy at any cost. “The company will now focus on building its existing bottled water portfolio of Himalayan, Tata Copper Plus Water and Tata Gluco,” said one of the executives cited above.
No definitive agreement
The company “has not entered into any definitive agreement or binding commitment with Bisleri International,” the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) arm of the Tata Group said on March 17 in an exchange filing. “The company wishes to update that it has now ceased negotiations with Bisleri with regard to a potential transaction and to confirm that the company has not entered into any definitive agreement or binding commitment on this matter.”
Chauhan had sold his soft drinks brands Thums Up, Gold Spot, Citra, Maaza, and Limca to the India unit of Coca-Cola in 1993 when it was re-entering the Indian market. Even after three decades, Thums Up continues to dominate the soft drinks market with a share of about 20%, well ahead of global rival brands Coke and Pepsi in India.