Tata Consumer Products Limited (TCPL) has stopped negotiations with the Ramesh Chauhan group for the acquisition of Bisleri, a drinking water brand. The Tata firm confirmed in an exchange filing that the company has not entered into any definitive agreement or binding commitment on this matter. It said the announcement was issued to prevent any speculation concerning the matter.
TCPL and the Ramesh Chauhan group, as per various reports, were in talks for the sale of Bisleri for Rs 6,000 – 7,000 crore. The latter was negotiating with a few companies, including TCPL, for selling Bisleri International. Ramesh Chauhan had purchased the drinking water company from an Italian firm called Felice Bisleri for Rs 4 lakh in 1969. He sold the company’s soft drink businesses, including Thumbs Up and Gold Spot, to Coca-Cola, almost 30 years ago. The Ramesh Chauhan group has over 122 operational plants and 4,500 distributors across India and neighboring countries. If TCPL had sealed the deal, the company would have become the largest in the Indian fast-moving consumer goods space.
Vishal Gutka, vice-president of research (consumer and retail sector) at Philip Capital India, pointed out that sentiment in the market for the majority stake buyout of Bisleri was positive. “But it was all dependent on the structure of the deal.”
Sunil D’Souza, managing director and CEO of TCPL, had said last month that the company was not in the bidding game. He shared that TCPL is working on a road map of how it plans to enter the FMCG space. “Unless we build a strong food and beverages (F&B) company, we will not jump in.” TCPL will move into the FMCG space when it is confident that the runway or the big pieces of the F&B pieces have been tackled.