Bilimoria gears up for Cobra Beer sale

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By THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH in London
  • Published 18.05.08
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London, May 18: Lord Bilimoria has signalled a prospective sale of his Cobra Beer empire, a move that could net a multi-million- pound fortune for one of Britain’s most prominent Asian businessmen.

The cross-bench peer’s move at an auction of the brewing business has been disclosed in the marketing documents seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which are being used to convince financial institutions to back the company.

Cobra is promising investors a “full exit in 36 months” and states that a sale to one of the big brewers or drinks companies is likely.

It identified SABMiller, InBev, Molson Coors, Carlsberg and Anheuser-Busch as “obvious buyers” with others such as Heineken, Kirin and Indian companies as “possible buyers”. Cobra is trying to secure £13 million from investors to help fund its rapid expansion in India.

Bilimoria, who founded premium brand Lager Company in 1989 by selling crates to curry houses from the back of his car, confirmed the strategy “It’s a very likely option that someone comes along and makes us an offer we cannot refuse,” Bilimoria said.

“I am not saying I am definitely going to sell the company. What I am saying is that definitely within three years we will have to have a major event,” he added.

He said SABMiller’s acquisition of Foster’s Indian operations in 2006 is an indication of the interest shown by leading international brewers in the fast growing market.

Cobra is using investment bank NM Rothschild and City Capital Corporation, an advisory firm, to help it find new investment.

The brewer’s revenue grew 34 per cent last year to £30.2 million. This year it expects £44.4 million in sales and is aiming to hit £100 million by 2009.