Unilever wants larger slice of Indian growth

Unilever wants larger slice of Indian growth

Consumer goods giant Unilever has said that it is not plotting an attempt take full-control of listed Indian subsidiary Hindustan Unilever.

Unilever holds a 52.48% share in Hindustan Unilever, which the consumer goods giant hopes to raise to 75% of the share capital. This is the maximum level of investment that Unilever can hold under Indian securities and exchange rules while maintaining Hindustan Unilever's public listing.

"We have no plans to take anything further than 75%," a spokesperson for Unilever told just-food this afternoon (30 April).

By increasing its stake in Hindustan Unilever, the company will benefit from an increased share of future profits, the spokesperson continued. "The benefit is to increase our share of the profits that Hindustan Unilever generates. At the moment it is split 50-50 between Unilever and the other shareholders, whereas if we increase our share we would get a bigger part of that."

Unilever has offered INR292.2bn (US$5.44bn) for the 22.52% stake it hopes to take. This represents a premium of around 26% on the Indian business's trading average in the month prior to Unilever's announcement, and a 25% premium on the prior week's average price.

The spokesperson said the price reflects the longer-term growth potential that Unilever sees in Hindustan Unilever. "[India] is a big growth country for us. We already have a stake in a company that has been there 100 years. It is not just a leading FMCG company but a leading company in India full stop, so it attracts not only investment but also the top talent in the country and obviously has lots of great opportunities. It's a very good opportunity, we think."

There are no plans to alter Hindustan Unilever's current management team or the group's strategic direction. "The management team are all effectively Unilever people. There would be no change to either the board or the management structure. It would continue as it has done, just with us as a larger shareholder."