Sula Wine's Rajeev Samant has denied that they are selling any stake to Diageo, the liquor giant who is planning to enter the wine space. There is no truth to the speculation fuelled in the Economic times and international press about the possibility of Diageo take over of Sula or acquiring a chunk of the holdings.
Rajeev who came back yesterday after a long stint of USA called me and confirmed to me, ‘I have been to many places, but believe me, not to Diageo's Board room!' In his telephonic call he clarified that Diageo did approach them for a chat. But there was no question of his selling any stake. He owns a simple majority and has no intention of letting go of that. A 26% stake would mean a virtual handing over the company.
Sula is in a happy and booming state where in the last FY06 they had sold 90,000 cases and hope to surpass the target of 12500 cases this year. ‘ we are growing at 35-40% rate annually. In today's market scenario it is difficult to plan that far ahead as the situation is very fluid. We do foresee to maintain this growth and this point I can only confirm again that we are not looking for any strategic alliances', he added.
Reflecting on new policy allowing sale of wines in the supermarket wines and allowing the addition of wine to the beer selling licenses, he added that this would bring another boom in Maharashtra. There have been cities like Pune, Thane and Navi (New) Mumbai which have the maximum population growth but for the last 30 years no new licenses had been issued. By allowing this addition, wine sales would take another quantum jump. ‘Since the new law was announced, we have signed 16 new accounts in Maharashtra, primarily in these areas. There hasn't been much of a change in Mumbai so far since the Mumbai market is pretty well served by the wine shops, particularly in South Mumbai' he added.
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October 18, 2006