Tata Consumer Products (TCPL) has called off talks with Bisleri for a potential acquisition of the packaged water major. In a notice to stock exchanges on Friday, the Tata group firm said it had not entered into any definitive agreement or binding commitment on this matter.
“The above announcement is issued voluntarily to prevent any speculation concerning the matter,” TCPL added. Sources familiar with the developments said the two sides could not agree on the valuation. The owners of the Bisleri brand were reportedly looking to sell the brand for about `7,000 crore.
Speculation about a deal had started only after Bisleri chairman Ramesh Chauhan said in November that he had made up his mind to sell the company after a series of meetings with the Tatas. Chauhan’s decision to sell may also have been prompted by reluctance of the next generation to steer Bisleri.
Media reports had quoted Chauhan as saying that while selling Bisleri was a painful decision, the Tata group was likely to nurture and take care of the brand much better that any other potential suitor. Apart from Bisleri, the company owns a premium packaged water brand – Vedica – and four fizzy drinks – Spyci, Limonata, Fonzo, and Bisleri Soda. Company executives refused to answer any query on why the talks fell through.
Brand Bisleri has had a chequered history in India. Launched in India in 1965 by Italian entrepreneur Signor Felice Bisleri, the brand was snapped up by Parle in 1969 for `4 lakh, and the company went on to build the category of mineral water in India. Bisleri is expected to log a turnover of `2,500 crore with a profit of `220 crore in 2022-23.
Bisleri has over 122 operational plants and 4,500 distributors pan-India and in neighbouring countries. Bisleri is the only brand the owners have held on to until now. In 1993, the company sold stable brands Thums Up, Maaza, Citra, Gold Spot and Limca to Coca-Cola, when it re-entered the Indian market.
The Tata group sells packaged mineral water under the Himalayan brand as well as Tata Copper Plus Water and Tata Gluco+. It would have claimed the top slot in the segment if it were to acquire Bisleri.