The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Eveready seeks US partner for battery

Calcutta, June 30: B.M. Khaitan-controlled Eveready Industries India Limited (EIIL) is open to the idea of roping in a strategic partner from the US for its battery division.

Speaking to newspersons after the company’s annual general meeting today, executive vice-chairman and managing director Deepak Khaitan said: “We may bring in a strategic business partner from the US for our battery business. But things are now depressed in the US as well as in India. Once they look up and the stock market shows healthy movements, we may consider it.”

The company wants to improve both its topline and bottomline so that it can fetch a better price from the strategic partner. US battery manufacturers like Energizer, Duracell and Reyovac might be interested in the company.

Eveready Industries has also worked out its business roadmap till 2005, when it turns 100 years old. The company was set up in 1905. The tea-to-batteries major is looking at 1.5 billion battery sales and 10,000 tonnes of packet tea sales by the end of 2005. It is also targeting battery exports of 100 million by the end of the 100th year.

At present, the company exports 35 million batteries under the brand name Lava. It plans to export 70 million batteries this fiscal. The company, which produces 40 million kgs of tea, sources its teas for packet both from the gardens as well as from auctions.

Earlier, replying to shareholders, chairman B. M. Khaitan said, “The demerger of the tea and battery business has been put on hold due to heavy stamp duty.”

However, Deepak clarified that since both the businesses have started to yield good results there is no reason to demerge them for now. “Rabo Bank, our adviser, has asked us not to go ahead with the demerger plan,” he said.

The company informed the shareholders that the sales of battery for the first quarter ending June 30 is higher compared with the corresponding period of the previous year.

The company’s battery business grew by 16.4 per cent in 2003-03 and it currently enjoys a 43.4 per cent market share.

Regarding the bulk tea business, the company’s production during the first quarter is higher than for the corresponding period of the previous year. The company exports its teas to Europe, UK and the US.

The company will repay Rs 100 crore debt this fiscal.

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