Grover Vineyards buys wineries of USL, HCC

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HCC, promoted by Ajit Gulabchand, entered the wine business in 2014, but a change in strategy is because of losses and debts.
(This story originally appeared in on Jan 11, 2019)
Grover Zampa Vineyards, the country’s No. 2 winemaker, is set to buy the wine assets of United Spirits (USL) and Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) for Rs 67 crore to bolster its sales in Asia’s third-largest economy, people in the know told TOI. USL’s wine brand is Four Seasons, while HCC’s is Charosa.

These acquisitions come close on the heels of its January 4 purchase of Myra Vineyards. The deals will help Grover Zampa, backed by I-banker Ravi Viswanathan, a French national based in Singapore, to consolidate its position in the market dominated by Sula Vineyards. Sula, in terms of volume, sells more than 10 lakh cases in a year whereas Grover Zampa sells 2.60 lakh cases annually. The third position is held by Fratelli Wines.
Four Seasons’ vineyards is spread over 50 acres in Baramati, while Charosa’s winery is nestled amid 230-acre vineyards in Charosa village, both in Maharashtra. It was Vijay Mallya who led USL into the wine business in 2006 in partnership with the Sharad Pawar family. However, following the change in management at USL, new owner Diageo didn’t see wine as core to its liquor play.

HCC, promoted by Ajit Gulabchand, entered the wine business in 2014, but a change in strategy is because of losses and debts. HCC’s subsidiary Lavasa Corp, the country’s first privately developed city, is undergoing bankruptcy proceedings.

Grover Zampa (originally Grover Vineyards) was founded by Kanwal Grover in 1988. In 2012, it was merged with Vallee de Vin (owner of the Zampa brand) to form the current corporate entity. After the acquisitions of Four Seasons and Charosa, the Grovers’ stake will come down to 6% from 11%, while Viswanathan’s will increase from 50% to 69%. Other investors — Quintela, AVT Group (known for its tea play) and original promoters of Vallee de Vin — will continue to hold 9%, 10% and 6% in the winemaker.
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