Neville Prior

Unilever bets on India

Neville Prior  1 May 2013 03:04:27 PM
Unilever plans to pay up to $5.4 billion to raise its stake in its Indian subsidiary, making its biggest deal in 13 years a huge bet on the strength of demand for personal care and food products in Asia's third-largest economy. The Anglo-Dutch giant said it planned to lift its share in Hindustan Unilever, India's largest consumer goods maker, known for its Dove and Lipton brands, to as much as 75 percent from 52 at present. The deal, the largest single investment in the Indian consumer goods sector, is a major vote of confidence in the Indian economy, where growth is at its lowest for a decade. It fits Unilever's strategy of increasing its presence in fast-growing markets. Emerging markets, which make up 57 percent of its turnover, have contributed double-digit growth in recent quarters. That contrasts with rivals who have been slower to move into fast-growth regions. Unilever's main household products rival Procter & Gamble has been shedding jobs, while Danone is the most exposed among the big food groups to the euro zone crisis. "The long heritage and great brands of Hindustan Unilever, and the significant growth potential of a country with 1.3 billion people, makes India a strategic long-term priority for the business," said Unilever Chief Executive Paul Polman.
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