London: A number of foreign investors are in talks for picking up a significant stake in Tata group’s tea plantation business in India spanning across 24 tea gardens in Assam and West Bengal, a senior group official said here.
As per a tentative restructuring proposal, which is subject to approval from the Calcutta High Court, Tata Tea would retain a 20% stake in North India Plantation Operations (NIPO). Another 20% would go to other investors like IL&FS and IFCI, Tata Tea’s UK-based Tetley unit’s Group CFO L Krishna Kumar said here.
Besides, about 10% stake could be sold to non- resident companies or investors and about 10% would be owned by another group company Tata Investment. About 15-20% could be given to the workers at the operations, Kumar told visiting Indian reporters.
Tata Tea had acquired Tetley in 2000, which has since become the world’s second largest tea bag brand.
“Talks are on with a number of overseas investors for the 20% stake, but they are at an early stage,” he said, but declined to reveal the identities of the concerned parties.
Tata group chief Ratan Tata had in August had said at Tata Tea’s AGM in Mumbai that about 37,000 employees of the Tata-held tea gardens in West Bengal and Assam would be moving over to the new entity, Amalgamated Plantations Pvt Ltd (APPL). It was being created in accordance with Tata Tea’s restructuring plans to come out of the plantation business.