India/Singapore: Molson Coors offloads business in India

Molson Cooors has agreed to sell its Indian business unit Singapore-headquartered Inbrew Holdings Pte. Ltd. Inbrew Holdings is owned by London based non-resident Indian businessman Ravi Deol through a privately held Ahead Global Holdings. Deol co-founded India's first indigeneous coffee chain Barista Coffee.

Inbrew Holdings will acquire the plants, along with the entire business operations in India as well as the Thunderbolt brand and the local rights for India to Molson Coors’ other brands such as Millers, Miller High Life, Miller Ace, Blue Moon, Carling and Cobra.

“Molson Coors has invested significantly in India and we plan to expand the manufacturing footprint and distribution of Thunderbolt to smaller cities and towns, a strong base for strong beers. We will be launching the brand in more southern states," commented Deol the deal.

“The sale of the India operation will make us a more streamlined organisation, whilst retaining a platform for our brands in India” said Simon Cox, president and CEO of Molson Coors’ EMEA & APAC division.
 

For the last years Molson Coors was not happy with its Indian business unit due to prohibitive legislation concerning alcohol in some Indian states. The situation was exacerbated by the current drop in sales due to restrictions to contain the coronavirus. As a consequence people close to the matter already reported in January that Molson Coors was looking for a buyer for its problem child. (inside.beer, 19.1.2021)

Cobra Beer was originally brewed in Bangalore, India and imported and distributed to restaurants in the UK by its founder, British-Indian entrepreneur Lord Karan Bilimoria shortly after he graduated from the University of Cambridge. In 2009, he teamed up with the US brewer Molson Coors to rescue the company from collapse via a pre-pack administration. He emerged as chairman with a 49.9 per cent stake, while 340 creditors were owed more than GBP 70 million. Bilimoria promised to repay all Cobra creditors from his share of the dividends which he does up to date.

Molson Coors entered the beer market in India in 2011with a joint venture with Cobra Indian Beer and renamed it as Molson Coors Cobra India. Molson Coors had a 51% stake in the company and Cobra Beer’s founder, Lord Karan Bilimoria the rest.

The joint venture operated a 175.000 hl brewing facilities in Bihar which had at one point a 50% market share in the beer market in Bihar. However, in 2016 the Bihar government banned all sales of alcohol which caused all breweries in the state to close.

Subsequently, the company acquired Mohali-based Mount Shivalik Brewery (MSBL) and its entire portfolio, a deal which also gave it two breweries in Bhankarpur (Punjab) and Ambala (Haryana).

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