Mumbai: The Wadia Group, an equal partner with Danone in top biscuit maker Britannia Industries Ltd is poised to buy the French company’s stake at a discount.
The deal, at a discount of as much as 20% to the market price, is expected to be finalized at a meeting of Danone Chairman Franck Riboud with the Wadias on 3September, according to sources within the company.
“The two partners are also likely to discuss the thorny issues of intellectual property... and the no-objection certificate that Danone needs to go solo,” it said.
The agreement between the two companies gives them first right of refusal to buy the other’s stake.
Danone and the Wadia Group each own 50% in Associated Biscuits International, which holds 51% in Britannia.
Shares in Britannia, which also makes dairy products, ended at Rs1,575.35 on Thursday, valuing the firm at $913 million.
Danone, which recently sold its biscuit and cereal snack unit to Kraft Foods Inc. excluding its stakes in its Indian and Latin American businesses, is keen to tap the growing demand for packaged foods in India independently.
There are rumours that Danone may sell its stake in Britannia to another firm and that the Wadia Group is not keen on Kraft taking Danone’s stake in Britannia.
The French bottled water and yogurt producer is reported to be embroiled in a spat with Britannia over the licensing of international rights to the best-selling Tiger biscuit brand, which Britannia developed and is registered in several countries.
The Wadia Group has had a rocky relationship with Danone, having taken Danone to court over the French firm’s strategic stake in an Indian biotech firm, which the Wadias said violated a non-compete clause in their joint venture agreement.