Special Correspondent

Tata Tea explores acquisition in U.K. and U.S.

  • Revamp in North Indian gardens taking shape
  • Pilot project for growing vegetables launched

    KOLKATA: The Tata group is planning to increase its equity holding across group companies, Tata Sons Chairman, Ratan Tata, said here on Tuesday, while addressing the shareholders at the annual general meeting of group company Tata Tea Ltd (TTL).

    Clarifying this point to The Hindu, R. K. Krishnakumar, TTL Vice-Chairman, said while there was no such thing as a comfortable level of holding, the plan was to raise the stake in group companies, in some of which the present holding was below 30 per cent. He cited the instance of TTL where the group holding was about 28 per cent.

    However, he said, "There is no ceiling as such".

    But Mr. Krishnakumar was unwilling to see this as a major development for the group or link it with any recent international takeovers. He said no fund was proposed to be created towards this end and the issue of cross holding would also be examined.

    On the problems regarding acquisition of land in West Bengal for the proposed small car project of Tata Motors, Mr. Tata said the group was waiting for the West Bengal Government to takeover the land in the identified area in Singur near here.

    On Tata Tea's plans, Mr. Tata told the shareholders that the company was keen to leverage on the various attributes of tea, which had rich antioxidant properties.

    Mr. Krishnakumar said the Tata Tea group was eyeing a quantum increase in its consolidated turnover from Rs. 3,106 crore in 2005-06 to Rs. 7,000 crore in about three years.

    "The growth path will include organic and inorganic routes," he said.

    TTL is exploring its options on acquisitions in the U.K. and the U.S. in the tea-based beverage space.

    On the company's plans for its north India operations, he told The Hindu that the restructuring had reached final stages and would involve the group retaining a token stake, with employees also having a shareholding. "We have received some interesting proposals but will be in a position to divulge details later," he said.

    Regarding alternative use of surplus plantation land, he said two pilot-scale projects had been launched for growing vegetables on the surplus land in the North Indian gardens.