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Delhi Wine Club
Grover and Zampa Merger Moves into Final Round

Posted: Monday, 26 March 2012 15:08

Grover and Zampa Merger Moves into Final Round

March 26 : Eleven months after delWine broke out the story of Grover and Zampa merger, later picked up by several media, it is time to confirm that the first step has been completed with the buying out of shares of Brindco, Jerry Rao and Veuve Clicquot and induction of two strategic overseas investors , writes Subhash Arora who has been following the developments for almost a year.

Ravi and his wife Julia Sherstyuk-Viswanathan
The transaction to buy out the 17% share of Brindco for Rs.17 crores, 12% held by Jerry Rao, the ex-CitiBanker and 11% with Veuve Clicquot was completed last Friday. Confirming this, Aman Dhall, Director of Brindco said he had received Rs. 17 crores and the contractual agreement of Brindco as the exclusive All-India distributor stood terminated with immediate effect. With the fiscal year ending on March 31, the new distribution channels ought to be in place well in time for the next year.

Now, the 59% share is owned by Grover family, Meghraj & Co. and their consultant Michel Rolland. The money has reportedly come from the venture capitalist Ravi Vishwanathan and a Dubai based family who is keen to invest in wine in India. These two have taken over the shareholding of 41%

The amount required to buy out the shares of Brindco and Jerry Rao was speculated to be between Rs.150 million to Rs.300 million, according to delWine in April 2011, based on various discussions. Interestingly, the shares have been reportedly bought over for Rs.230 million.

The path is now clear to merge Zampa with Grover Vineyards, confirms Kapil Grover, Director of Grover Vineyards. The merged entity might be named as Grover Zampa Vineyards Ltd. While Zampa would be well ridden of the ludicrous name Vallee de Vin, it does not make sense to name the entity as ‘vineyards’ when both the existing companies buy a majority of grapes from outside. Hopefully, the new name would be Grover Zampa Wines ltd. or simply Grover Zampa Ltd.

While the negotiations and the search for the strategic partner were going on there were constant denials by Ravi Jain, Director of Zampa and the market had started accepting that the deal had fallen through. However, Kapil Grover had always maintained that the talks were going on and the trump card would be the finding of the correct outside partner before buying out Brindco and having the merger go through.

After the merger, the shareholding of the Grover family including Rolland is expected to come down to around 50%- Kapil Grover insists he and his earlier associates will be in a majority and he will continue to play a dominant role with the new partners and Zampa maintaining the balance.

Ravi  cool dude Viswanathan

The new strategic partner Ravi Viswanathan is a resident of Singapore.  Married to a Russian, he is an avid wine connoisseur with an enviable cellar in Burgundy. He owns restaurant Buyan Russian Haute Cuisine & Caviar Bar in Singapore, which is run by his wife Julia Sherstyuk-Viswanathan. He was in news a few months ago when he purchased the most expensive Champagne at an auction in Finland for over $40,000. At Rs. 2 million, it is the oldest, most expensive drinkable Champagne. Setting a bad precedent for married wine lovers, the 170-year old  bottle of Veuve Clicquot  was reportedly bought as a 10th year anniversary present for his wife. The bottle is now a part of the collection at the restaurant which is most-talked about in Singapore F & B industry, not only for its Russian cuisine but also the long list of around 150 wines-by-the glass that includes 1945 Mouton Rothschild 1945! By the glass!! During a dinner last week at WSA Wine Challenge where I was invited to be the Head judge for one of the three panels, some of the judges could not stop gushing about the restaurant’s wine list. The Viswanathans plan to open the bottle at an appropriate moment.
The talks are already on to appoint wholesalers and before the FY12 is out, some decisions will be made, asserts Kapil. The investments will start rolling as soon as the holding pattern is worked out. The sales volumes of both Zampa and Grover took a dip this year because of the fluid scenario throughout the year and despite the original forecast by Kapil of about 75,000 cases, the sales is unlike to cross 60,000 cases. However, Kapil is confident that next year the sales will touch 120,000 cases. ‘I will be terribly disappointed if we don’t cross 100,000,’ he says.

The coming days will see a lot of stories develop in their Mumbai offices and various media will be lining up for the interesting story that Grover is soon going to make. DelWine will continue to focus on the facts and keep the readers abreast of whether the new entity would be in a position to challenge the leading producer Sula.

Perhaps, the sales next year would reach 120,000 cases and perhaps their  new partner Ravi Viswanathan and his wife Julia will consider popping the Veuve Clicquot which is awaiting just the right moment to be popped.

For the earlier Breaking News story, please visit the issue of delWine of April 27, 2011
Zampa May Merge with Grover Vineyards

Subhash Arora


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