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No plans to sell stake, says Gillette India promoter

Sindhu J. Bhattacharya

New Delhi , June 15

PROCLAIMING that he has no plans to exit Gillette India Ltd (GIL) pursuant to the global acquisition by Procter & Gamble (P&G), the Chairman of the company, Mr Saroj K. Poddar, said today that he was not a "keen seller".

Earlier this year, P&G had announced a global acquisition of The Gillette Company, but implications of the deal for GIL's Indian operations appear unclear even now. Mr Poddar, credited with bringing Gillette to India, is the single largest shareholder in the company with 15 per cent stake.

"As far as I am concerned, given an option, I would like to continue in my current status as the Indian promoter group and majority shareholder with rights already given in the promoters' agreement and articles of the company. I am not a keen seller," he told Business Line.

He said till date, P&G has not approached him for any negotiations and there have been no major changes in the top management of Gillette India. Only, Mr Sachin Gopal - who was heading the marketing operations for Gillette - has been promoted to head the same function in P&G India, Mr Poddar said.

Asked whether there will be manpower rationalisation once the combined entity becomes operational in India, he said there was no clarity on the final corporate structure as far as Indian operations are concerned.

As on March 31 this year, the total Indian promoters' holding in Gillette India is a little over 44 per cent, whereas foreign promoters hold about 41 per cent stake. Persons acting in concert hold another 3.63 per cent of the company's equity. Public holding in the company is about 7.5 per cent.

Mr Poddar said Gillette India is a cash-rich, zero-debt company with Rs 200 crore surplus cash.

"We have decided to significantly step up investments in the advertising and marketing budget for 2005 and will use the spare cash to build a strong product franchise," he said.

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