Hutchison joins race for RPG Cellcom
Shaw Wallace focus on wines

Calcutta, Aug 19: 
Hutchison Max is in talks with the RPG group to acquire the latter’s entire stake in RPG Cellcom, the cellular service provider in Madhya Pradesh. Confirming the development, a senior RPG official said the group was currently weighing all offers and would take a decision soon.

Birla-Tata-At&T is also in the race to buy the RPG stake.

“We have decided to sell out our stake in the RPG Cellcom because we don’t have any geographical advantage in Madhya Pradesh. But we will definitely continue to be a strong player in Chennai,” the official said.

Hutchison, the owner of Orange brand, has recently acquired Usha Martin’s stake in Command that provides cellular services in Calcutta.

In Chennai, the RPG group is considering the selloff of a part of its holding in RPG Cellular Services.

Sources said the group which has a 68.5 per cent stake in RCS is planning to bring it down to 51 per cent. The company is expected to appoint a consultant shortly for the valuation of its assets. “After the process of valuation is completed, the company will appoint a merchant banker to scout for a suitable partner,” they added.

Paras Kumar Chowdhary, president & CEO of RCS said “the RPG group was not averse to the idea of diluting holding beyond 51 per cent.”

“However, it has to go through a process,” he added.

The RPG spokesman said the group might offload a part of its stake in the company but it would definitely continue toexercise management control. The other two major shareholders in the cellular company are Vodafone Airtouch and Cell Phone.

While Vodafone is the technology partner with a 22 per cent stake, Cell Phone of the UK is only a financial partner. Sources said Cell Phone might sell its stake after the asset valuation is over. The RCS supremo, however, refused to comment on the issue.

Chowdhury said several companies had shown interest in RCS because of its “tremendous” performance.

“The company is already making a profit of Rs 1.5 crore per month before depreciation, which is very encouraging,” he said.

The company has expanded its capacity to handle 75,000 subscribers from 25,000 at an investment of Rs 40 crore. “But this is not enough given our growth rate. We are connecting 4000 subscribers every month,” he added.

The company is also planning to make an investment of another Rs 25 crore to expand the capacity further to 1.1 lakh subscribers.

“We are hopeful that by the end of this financial year, the company will complete its second phase of expansion,” he said.

The company also has plans to offer web-enabled services very shortly. We are trying to offer the most modern services to our customers with the help of internet, he said.

Chowdhury however has clearly stated the company does not have plans to tap the capital market at the moment.

“We don’t need funds from outside to finance our expansion activities. We will make investment from our internal generation,” he said.    

Mumbai, Aug 19: 
Shaw Wallace and Company (SWC) is focussing on its wines business for future growth. Executive vice-president Phillip Sargunar will head the newly-created wines division.

The Manu Chhabria-controlled company has been in wine business since 1967.

It has two wineries—one in Hyderabad and the other in Bangalore. The flagship brands are Golcondo Rubu Wine and Golcondo White Wine.    


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