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Working up a lather

Working up a lather

Wipro Consumer is now India's third-largest FMCG company.

Azim Premji: Focus on FMCG
Azim H. Premji, chairman, Wipro, has always bristled at suggestions that his non-it portfolio, which ranges from bulbs and electrical switches to soaps, furniture and honey, is ever likely to be either spun off or even sold. Given that till recently it was the it chunk of the pie that brought in nearly 80 per cent of Wipro's $3.5 billion revenues and 90 per cent of Wipro's profits, several outsiders have felt that the non-it business has been a drag on the company. Premji on each occasion has pointed out that by all financial metrics, including profitability and return on capital employed, Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting has done remarkably well compared to peers in the Indian industry. So, those familiar with Premji's thinking were not surprised that Wipro coughed up $246 million (Rs 1,010.2 crore) to acquire Unza Holdings, a Singapore-based personal care company with operations in 40 countries. In fact, after the acquisition of Spectramind in 2002 (now Wipro bpo) for $95.5 million (worth Rs 448.5 crore then), this is the second-largest acquisition made by the company. What is more, add Unza's revenues of Rs 683 crore to Wipro Consumer's Rs 818 crore, and Premji suddenly finds himself at the helm of India's third-largest Indian fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company, after Nirma and Dabur (without Unza, Wipro Consumer would be at #6).

Vineet Agrawal, President, Wipro Consumer Care and Lighting, says: "This acquisition will double our addressable market size. Unza has a large portfolio of strong brands catering to Asian consumers. We will examine which brands are relevant to India." Agrawal adds that Unza will be managed by the existing team, and changes will be minimal.