Tata Group said to transfer its food business to Tata Global Beverages

Signage for Tata Consultancy Services Ltd. is displayed outside the company's headquarters in Mumbai, India, on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

Tata Sons Ltd. is set to transfer all its branded food businesses to Tata Global Beverages Ltd. from Tata Chemicals Ltd., according to people with knowledge of the matter, as India’s biggest conglomerate streamlines its corporate structure.

Tata Global Beverages will buy all food brands and give shares in return to Tata Chemicals, the people said asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. Tata Global Beverages will also rename itself after the deal, with a formal announcement expected as early as this week, they said.

Tata Global Beverages was trading 2.1% higher at 10:14 a.m. Wednesday in Mumbai, paring its decline this year to 6.8%. Tata Chemicals, which has slipped 18% this year, climbed 0.7% while the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex was up 0.5% rise during Mumbai trading.

The first such transaction between two listed Tata companies underpins group Chairman N atarajan Chandrasekaran’s resolve to simplify the coffee-to-cars conglomerate, which has more than 100 operating companies including Asia’s biggest software services firm and India’s largest automaker. Last year, the group said it will create a single entity called Tata Aerospace & Defence by merging all allied businesses.

A spokeswoman for Tata Sons, which controls Tata Chemicals and Tata Global Beverages, declined to comment on media speculation.

Core Competencies

Tata Global Beverages, one of the biggest branded tea sellers in the world with Tetley and Tata Tea, will now add branded salt, spices and lentils to its portfolio. It also sells coffee under Eight O’Clock brand and bottled water under. Tata Chemicals, the world’s third-largest producer of soda ash, will focus on its core chemicals business after this deal, the people said.

Chandrasekharan, in an interview to Bloomberg last year, said the 151-year-old group had gone into businesses that were once needed for nation building. But he said he now intended to whittle down this sprawl into 10 verticals, which would oversee all the group businesses.