Cobra to flow from Feb. 15

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By ANAND RAJ ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY AMIT ROY IN LONDON
  • Published 10.02.12
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Patna, Feb. 9: The much-publicised investment proposal from global beer giant Cobra, a multinational company promoted by Lord Karan Bilimoria, is set to start flowing from February 15.

Production will commence that day at the brewery owned by Molson Coors Cobra India, a joint venture of Molson Coors and Cobra Beer, at Bihta, some 40km from Patna. In June last year, Molson Coors Cobra took over the brewery owned by Iceberg Industries Limited after buying 100 per cent stake in the company.

Bilimoria had in August last year met chief minister Nitish Kumar on setting up the brewery. The company would initially invest $35 million in its India operations, a majority of which would be utilised for the future expansion plans of the brewery operations in Bihar, a company press release had said after its chairman met Nitish.

Renovation and modernisation work is going on in full swing in the brewery with new machines and technology being installed to produce 5 lakh cases of beer per month.

“Earlier, we had taken a decision to start production from February 10 but since some of the work is in the final stages, the date has been extended to February 15….The complete renovation and modernisation work of the plant would be completed by March-end or the first week of April,” Daya Shanker Prasad Srivastava, general manager (operations), told The Telegraph.

The company would make an initial investment of Rs 40 crore for renovation and modernisation of the brewery plant to enhance its production capacity, Srivastava said.

The plant’s current capacity is 1.5 lakh cases per month which would be enhanced to 5 lakh cases, Srivastava said. Each case contains 12 bottles of 650 ml.

He said the beer factory would contribute Rs 50 crore as tax — excise and sales — to the state exchequer.

Asked why the beer giant is still carrying the old name “Iceberg Industries Ltd”, Srivastava said: “We could not change the name as a lot of formalities have to be completed. This would be done later.”

Lord Bilimoria, chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership, explained to The Telegraph last month why he was keen to invest in Bihar.

In a statement to The Telegraph, Lord Bilimoria said: “In June 2011, Cobra Beer entered into a joint venture with Molson Coors — the last of the global brewing giants to enter India — forming Molson Coors Cobra India (Cobra has already been in a global joint venture with Molson Coors since May 2009). We own the only brewery in the state of Bihar, and have almost completed the expansion and upgradation of the brewery, doubling its capacity from two million cases to four million cases. Over the past six-and-a-half years, Bihar has been transformed through the sheer good governance and inspirational leadership of chief minister Nitish Kumar, deputy chief minister Sushil Modi and their team. Crime has been reduced six times in six years, and the state has one of the fastest GDP growth rates of all the states in India, well ahead of India’s national growth rate. The beer market in Bihar has grown significantly in this period — we are very excited about our future in the state, and privileged to be a part of the Bihar success story, and to be the first multinational to start manufacturing in the state.”

Bilimoria is expected to be in the state to attend the government’s conclave for NRIs from February 17-19.

The beer market in Bihar has grown approximately 10 times — from an annual seven lakh cases to 70 lakh cases — since November 2005 when Nitish took charge of the state.