Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Dec 09, 2004
Corporate - Mergers & Acquisitions
Komal Chhabria in fray for SWC liquor biz
Bangalore , Dec. 8
MS Komal Chhabria Wazir is on the move to keep Shaw Wallace & Co (SWC)'s liquor business within the Manu Chhabria family fold. The 33-year-old second daughter of the Chhabria estate is attempting a leveraged buyout of the country's second-largest spirits operations, which is on the block.
The Dubai-based Jumbo Group, founded by the late Manu Chhabria, has mandated McKinsey Singapore to call for bids to decide on the future of SWC's liquor business. Ms Wazir is an Executive Director on the board of SWC, which is currently managed by her mother and Jumbo Group Chairperson, Ms Vidya Manohar Chhabria.
It must be mentioned that Ms Wazir has been hands-on in running SWC as well as the family's other Indian businesses, including Dunlop, Falcon Tyres, Mather & Platt, Hindustan Dorr Oliver and Gordon Woodroffe.
Informed sources said Ms Wazir was keen on keeping SWC's liquor business and was making a serious bid in her individual capacity.
However, the possibility of Ms Wazir firing a bid with the backing of strategic investors or with an overseas liquor company is not being ruled out.
In fact, the name of UK-based spirits major Whyte & Mackay (formerly Kyndal) as a possible partner for Ms Wazir has been doing the rounds for a while.
A top Whyte & Mackay official said: "We have a strong relationship with Shaw Wallace and the family of Manu Chhabria. We could be interested in helping the family if there is any need, given our rapport with the Jumbo Group Chairperson."
But the official denied that Whyte & Mackay was interested in making a bid for SWC in the current situation.
The industry observers opined that the emerging scenario could be a defining moment for Ms Wazir, the most visible face among the three Chhabria daughters and who was widely perceived as a natural heir to lead SWC. Further, Ms Wazir's presence in the fray has provided an interesting twist to the ongoing bidding process that was widely described as a watershed in the Indian liquor industry's consolidation games, the observers added. The other main contender is a consortium of investors led by Mr Ramesh Vangal, while many experts believe the UB Group Chairman, Mr Vijay Mallya, would place a bid indirectly.
Among the factors counted in favour of Ms Wazir is the rival bidders' lack of interest in the entire asset base of SWC liquor business, which would call for a complex structuring of their bids. But a successful bid by Ms Wazir could also pose interesting queries on shareholder interests, sources said.
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