Tata Group to acquire India's largest packaged water company Bisleri; chairman Ramesh Chauhan says ‘I like them’

November 24,2022

82-year-old Ramesh J Chauhan will sell his packaged water company Bisleri to Tata Consumer Products Ltd (TCPL) for about Rs 6,000-7,000 crore, nearly thirty years after he sold soft drink brands Thums Up, Gold Spot and Limca to Coca-Cola. Chauhan doesn’t have a successor as daughter Jayanti isn't much interested in the business.

The current management at India's largest packaged water company will continue for two years as part of the deal. The octogenarian chairman of the company hasn't been keep keeping too well and has been in indifferent health in recent times.

Saying that selling Bisleri was a "painful" decision, Chauhan believes that the Tata Group "will nurture and take care of it even better". "I like the Tata culture of values and integrity and hence made up my mind despite the aggression shown by other interested buyers," he told Economic Times.

Talks with Tata have been going on for two years and he made up his mind after meeting Tata Sons chairman N Chandrasekaran and Tata Consumer CEO Sunil D'Souza a few months back. "I like them. They are good guys," he told ET.

Claiming that the deal wasn't just about the money, Chauhan noted, "Even I don't know what I will do with it (the money) but let me make it clear. It was not just the value I am getting for it, I was more anxious to find a home that would look after it as I did. This is a business I have built with passion and it is now run by equally passionate employees," he said.

On keeping a minority stake in the company, chairman Chauhan said he doesn't see any point in keeping stakes. "What will I do with it when I am not running the show?" he said. After selling his packaged water company, Chauhan plans to refocus and invest in environmental and charitable causes like water harvesting, plastic recycling and helping the poor get medical treatment.

Meanwhile, he and his brother had sold the complete portfolio of aerated drinks to Coca-Cola in 1993. Apart from Thums Up, Gold Spot and Limca, the portforlio also included Citra, RimZim and Maaza. Tata Consumer is aggressive in the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) space and aiming to be among the top three in the sector. It also sells packaged mineral water under the Himalayan brand as well as Tata Copper Plus Water and Tata Gluco+.

At Bisleri, the 82-year-old has given over day-to-day management to a professional team headed by CEO Angelo George. Bisleri brand's turnover for FY23 is estimated at Rs 2,500 crore with profit at Rs 220 crore, according to Chauhan.

The packaged water company was originally an Italian brand that came to India in Mumbai in 1965. Four years later, it was acquired by the Chauhans in 1969.