A sample of liquid cocoa product, heated to 65 degrees celsius (Photographer: Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg)

Kraft Heinz Is Said to Mull $1 Billion Complan Sale in India

(Bloomberg) -- Kraft Heinz Co. is considering a sale of children’s milk drink brand Complan in India, which could fetch about $1 billion, people familiar with the matter said.

Kraft Heinz is working with an adviser to gauge interest in the business, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. The brand could attract local companies and private equity firms, the people said.

Consumer acquisitions in India have more than doubled this year to $7.7 billion, up from $3.4 billion during the same period in 2017, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Kraft Heinz is bringing Complan to market as U.K. pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline Plc weighs selling its stake in its Indian consumer health subsidiary, which owns malted milk drinks brand Horlicks.

Foreign companies selling health drinks are facing more intense competition as new local rivals enter the market, according to Arun Kejriwal, founder of Kejriwal Research & Investment Services Pvt. in Mumbai.

“India could be among the fastest growing markets for health drinks but there are challenges including heightened regulatory hurdles,” said Kejriwal. “Multinational companies either want to sell off before they face regulatory challenges or want to strengthen their portfolio to fight local health food and beverage companies.”

Deliberations are at an early stage, and Kraft Heinz could decide to keep the business, the people said. A representative for Pittsburgh-based Kraft Heinz declined to comment.

Kraft Heinz bought Complan from Glaxo in 1994. Controlled by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and private equity firm 3G Capital, Kraft Heinz reported better-than-expected profit in May. Management said it’s still eyeing acquisitions after Unilever NV spurned its takeover bid last year.

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