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Wadia buys full control of Britannia

Wadia Group and Groupe Danone have terminated their joint venture in Britannia Industries Ltd.

Written by Agencies | New Delhi |
April 15, 2009 1:11:26 pm

Ending a 13-year old association,the Wadia Group and Groupe Danone have terminated their joint venture in biscuit major Britannia Industries Ltd (BIL),with the Indian partner buying out the French food giant.

The two partners have also agreed to end their dispute over the intellectual property of BIL’s Tiger brand of biscuits.

In a joint statement,the two firms said Danone has sold its 50 per cent interest in ABI Holdings Ltd (held through Britannia Brands Limited) to Wadia Group. ABI Holdings Ltd holds an effective 50.96 per cent interest in Britannia Industries Ltd,a leading bakery company in India.

This agreement also sees an end to the intellectual property dispute over brand Tiger between Danone and Britannia,the statement added.

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“(The) Wadia Group is pleased with this acquisition… The company (BIL) is led and managed by a competent team of professionals,who will continue to explore profitable growth opportunities in food – both in India and overseas,” Britannia Industries Chairman Nusli N Wadia said.

The shares of Britannia Industries were last trading 2.53 per cent up at Rs 1,512.25 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

Groupe Danone CEO Franck Riboud said: “Danone is more keen than ever to contribute to the development of the healthy food market by implementing Danone brands in India in the coming years.”

Thirteen years of collaboration between the Wadia Group and Groupe Danone in Britannia helped to build a strong and respected leader in the Indian biscuits industry,he added.

By concluding this agreement,Groupe Danone is pursuing its strategy of divesting its biscuit activities and concentrating on its four strategic business lines,it said.

The French firm is concentrating on areas,including dairy and pro-biotic products,in India.

For the Wadia Group,the agreement constitutes a significant strengthening of its position within Britannia,a company that is a model of profitable growth,the joint statement said,adding,the transaction would enable both the companies to further develop their position in the growing Indian market.

Early last week,after fighting for over four years,Groupe Danone and the Wadias had struck a deal clearing the way for the French food giant to exit from their biscuit joint venture,Britannia Industries Ltd.

In 2006,the Wadia group dragged Danone to court in Mumbai alleging the French firm’s stake in biotech firm Avesthagen had violated a non-compete clause in their joint- venture agreement.

Ever since,they were fighting over the IPR of the Tiger brand with Britannia Industries taking Danone to court in Singapore in 2007. The Indian biscuit maker had alleged that Danone had registered the Tiger brand as its own in nearly 40 countries.

SHARES RISE 3 PC

Shares of Britannia Industries surged over three per cent on the Bombay Stock Exchange after the company said it has terminated its 13-year joint venture with French food giant Groupe Danone.

After opening on a weak note,scrips of Britannia surged to a high of Rs 1,520,up 3.05 per cent over the previous close on the BSE during the mid-day trade.

On the National Stock Exchange,the scrip rallied 3.37 per cent over the previous close to a high of Rs 1,525.

Shares of Britannia were quoting at Rs 1,512.25,up 2.53 per cent on the BSE,while on the NSE it was trading with a gain of 3.03 per cent at Rs 1,520.

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