Lactalis to buy majority stake in Carlyle-backed dairy firm Tirumala

France-based Lactalis Group, the world's largest dairy products maker, is in talks to buy majority stake in Hyderabad-based Tirumala Milk Products Pvt Ltd, as per a report in The Economic Times.

The report said Lactalis could pay up to $300 million for around 70 per cent stake, which could value the firm around $430 million.

Bolla Bramha Naidu, one of the four founders of Tirumala, told ET, "PE firm Carlyle, which owns a 20 per cent stake, would sell its holding while the four promoters would divest another 50 per cent, resulting in Lactalis owning 70 per cent. The negotiations are still on and clarity over exact stake sale could take a few more days."

In 2011, Carlyle acquired 20 per cent stake in the company for Rs 110 crore. It would score a multi-bagger with the proposed deal.

The remaining 80 per cent stake is held by the promoters Bolla Brahma Naidu, Brahmanandam, B Nageswara Rao and N Venkat Rao.

Lactalis, which also controls Italy's Parmalat, has a presence in nearly 150 countries.

Tirumala was set up by Naidu and Brahmanandam along with B Nageswara Rao in 1998. The firm makes products like milk, milk powder, butter, ghee, butter oil and ice cream. While the company has been expanding into milk derivatives and value-added products, liquid milk still constitutes a major chunk of its sales. Tirumala is one of the top players in markets like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka with a strong distribution network.

Tirumala had recently come up with a Rs 500 crore capital expansion plan, which involves setting up processing facilities in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

VCCircle had reported earlier that the firm has revived talks to bring a strategic investor.nded March 2013.

In May this year, VCCircle reported that the firm has renewed its stake sale plans after talks with French-foods major Danone SA, a key rival of Lactalis, was called off earlier this year. The firm had mandated a European investment bank and relaunched the process.

As per an earlier report in ET, TPG group and Danone were in advance talks with promoters and investors of Tirumala to purchase its 80 per cent stake. However, the deal did not materialise.

(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)

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