The Coca-Cola Co, the world’s largest beverage company, has emerged as the frontrunner to buy the consumer brand portfolio of Kraft Heinz — which includes children’s milk drink Complan, Nycil talcum powder, and energy drink powder Glucon D — for around Rs 4,000-5,000 crore, The Economic Times reported on Monday.
If Coke emerges as the winner, it will be the Atlanta-based giant’s second big acquisition in India two decades after it bought Parle’s beverage brands, including Thums Up.
Coke and the Zydus Cadila Group were in the running for the sale but a private consortium of Apax and Arpwood Partners made a strong play and emerged as a surprise bidder in the final round till Kraft Heinz tweaked the final deal contours, the financial daily said quoting sources aware of the matter.
The paper said the seller unexpectedly decided to sell the European holding company that houses the India operations and wants the buyer to absorb the tax losses of that entity, registered in Italy, as against the original plan of just selling the Indian operations along with the brands. The Italian company in turn is held through another entity registered in the Netherlands, which is an arm of the U.S. parent.
It said Kraft Heinz communicated to bidders that it would demerge the European entity’s operations and carve out all non-India businesses and convert it into a shell company that will hold the India investments and the tax losses relating to the European business to the tune of Rs 500-600 crore.
However, it added Indian bidders are likely to submit conditional offers or will opt out altogether fearing regulatory uncertainty over capital gains tax and round tripping.
Reports said many potential bidders like Danone, Tata Group, Nestle, Wipro Consumer, Dabur, Emami and ITC opted out because of high valuations. Kraft Heinz has been seeking about $1 billion for the assets. The bids are mostly expected to be in the $550-600 million range, they said.