Cargill Foods to acquire Marico sunflower oil biz

Written by fe Bureau | Mumbai | Updated: Mar 26 2011, 08:08am hrs
FMCG major Cargill Foods India has finally emerged as the winner in the race to acquire Maricos refined sunflower oil brand Sweekar for an undisclosed sum. The scope of the acquisition is limited to the product brand only. Lazard India acted as the sole financial advisor for Cargill in the acquisition. At present, Cargill India produces and markets sunflower oil locally under its NatureFresh and Gemini brands.

Announcing the news, Siraj Chaudhry, chairman of Cargill India said this acquisition not only strengthens Cargills existing portfolio of leading edible oil consumer brands but also expands its market reach in Indias premium sunflower oil market. We will build on Sweekars strong brand heritage. Acquiring the Sweekar brand underscores Cargill's long-term commitment to growing our consumer food business in India. Sweekar is a good fit with our existing strong brand portfolio of healthy and low absorption oils, he said.

Incidentally, Marico's refined oil brand was on the block for quite some time and Emami was the front runner to acquire this brand to extend its product portfolio in India.Sweekar contributed around 5% to Maricos sales and had wafer thin margins. Divesting of thin margin business is positive for Marico as it would lead to more focused approach on core categories, said an analyst based in Mumbai. Currently, Cargill India originates, refines, and markets edible oils and fats to cater to the needs of food manufacturers, food service companies and consumers in India

While announcing the divestment plans of its refined sunflower oil brand Sweekar to CargillI India, the Marico Group said the transaction for an undisclosed consideration envisages an assignment of the Sweekar trademark and copyrights from Marico to Cargill. The transaction takes immediate effect. Saugata Gupta, CEO of Maricos consumer products business said, In recent years, we have chosen Saffola as our wellness platform vehicle in the refined edible oils and health foods space. In our focused journey of sustainable profitable growth, therefore, we s that Sweekar has limited fitment in Maricos portfolio.

According to Milind Sarwate, Maricos chief finance, HR & strategy, the company has been accomplishing its organic growth targets at a relentless pace, augmented by acquisitions.

We have also looked at rationalising our brand basket in parallel, so that we continue to focus sharply on Beauty and Wellness. This divestment is thus a logical sub-set of a portfolio strategy aimed at sustainable profitable growth, he added.