India’s Tata Tea buys 33 pct stake in South African tea firm

NEW DELHI, Oct 5, 2006 (AFP) – Tata Tea, the world’s second-biggest branded teamaker, said Thursday it has bought a 33 percent stake in leading South African tea firm, Joekels Tea Packers, as part of its global expansion drive. Tata Tea, part of India’s hotels-to-steel Tata conglomerate, has signed an agreement with Joekels Tea Packers, South Africa’s third-largest tea firm, to acquire the minority stake in it, the company said in a statement.

The statement did not disclose financial details.

“This acquisition is yet another development in our plan to grow the Tata Groups tea business around the world,” Tetley Group Executive Vice Chairman of Tata Tea, Ken Pringle, said.

“It establishes a presence for Tetley in South Africa and some of its neighbouring countries,” he said.

Joekels would have a licence to sell Tetley branded products in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. They would produce these at their factory in Pinetown, Kwazulu Natal province, the company added.

Tata Tea has been on an overseas acquisition spree as it seeks to exit its tea plantation business to focus on more profitable branded tea and other activities. Earlier this year, Tata Tea acquired a 30 percent stake in New York-based Energy Brands Inc, which makes the popular Glaceau brand of flavored waters, for 677 million dollars.