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Chauhan seeks buyer for Bisleri

Ramesh Chauhan is on the prowl -- again. This time he is scouting for a buyer for his Rs 500-crore mineral water brand Bisleri. And the bidders? Nestle and Group Danone, two of the largest players in the mineral water market worldwide, are said to have shown interest in the brand. Reports indicate that Chauhan is has also held discussions with one of the top soft drink companies of the world for a possible sellout

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Ramesh Chauhan is on the prowl -- again. This time he is scouting for a buyer for his Rs 500-crore mineral water brand Bisleri. And the bidders? Nestle and Group Danone, two of the largest players in the mineral water market worldwide, are said to have shown interest in the brand. Reports indicate that Chauhan is has also held discussions with one of the top soft drink companies of the world for a possible sellout.
While admitting that he wasn't averse to selling off Bisleri, Chauhan added that there is no pressing need to conclude a deal in a hurry. He indicated that he was also contemplating the possibility of a joint venture, instead of a complete sell out. Speaking to The Economic Times he said that his psychological cut-off for the brand sale is at least Rs 500 crore.
The top brand in the growing mineral water market, Bisleri is obviously an attractive buy. Demand in the Rs 1,100-crore market has leapfrogged in the past few years. The branded market is already worth Rs 700 crore and is growing at a rate of 30 per cent annually. Compared to this, soft drinks are growing at a rate of less than 10 per cent. Bisleri rules the branded market with more than 55 per cent share. The closest competitor, Bailey, owned by Ramesh Chauhan's brother Prakash Chauhan has about 8 per cent market share in a market of about 250 different brands.
Acquisition of Bisleri by either Nestle or Group Danone would make the company the largest player in the Indian mineral water market. Over the past one year, Nestle has made its designs on the Indian mineral water market quite clear, while Danone has already launched its well known Evian brand. One of the latest entrants in the market is PepsiCo's Aqua Fina, which made a high profile debut only recently.
As of now, Ramesh Chauhan is giving finishing touches to his aggressive growth plans for Bisleri. He indicates that he is looking at a 400 per cent for Bisleri this year, and hopes to cross the Rs 1,000 crore mark by the year 2001.
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