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INDIA: India Tata Tea keeps friends and enemies close

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India's Tata Tea has shown an interest in acquiring more beverage brands to tap growing consumer demand for health drinks.

Tata Tea, the world's second-biggest branded tea firm, has conditionally agreed to sell its 30% stake in Energy Brands, which it bought last year, for US$1.2bn to Coca-Cola Co.

The company however, admitted to also  competing with Coca-Cola in other markets where it is looking to buy specialty teas and beverages.

A spokesperson from Tata Tea, said: "We increasingly bump into them (Coke) and compete with them. If you look at Coke's recent acquisitions, like Fuze and Glaceau, they're buying them for the same reasons that we consider."

Tata Tea, which has acquired herbal and fruit tea brands in eastern Europe and the US, recently bought nearly 26% in India's Mount Everest Mineral Water and has made an open offer to buy a further 20%, according to reports.

Meanwhile, Tata Tea is expanding its presence in Coke's home market, where it recently signed a deal with Yum Brands Inc.'s Taco Bell for Tetley iced tea. Recent press speculation suggests that the deal could be extended to other Yum companies such as Pizza Hut and KFC.

"We're looking at all opportunities," confirmed the spokesperson.


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