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India's top winemaker Sula aims for 29.13 billion rupees valuation in IPO

Bottles of Sula Zinfandel Rose are pictured on a wine shelf at a wine and tapas bar, in Mumbai

By M. Sriram and Tanvi Mehta

MUMBAI (Reuters) - Sula Vineyards is aiming for a valuation of up to 29.13 billion rupees ($353 million) in India's first initial public offering by a pure wine maker, riding high on the rise in consumption since the pandemic in a country that prefers beer, whisky and country liquor.

About 26.9 million shares will be sold for between 340 rupees and 357 rupees in the IPO, with Sula raising 9.60 billion rupees, Chief Executive Rajeev Samant said at a press conference in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Samant as well as Belgian investment firms Verlinvest and Cofintra SA will sell shares in the IPO, which could value India's largest wine maker as much as 29.13 billion rupees at the top end of the price range, per Reuters' calculations.

However, that is less than Radico Khaitan Ltd's market value of 147.52 billion rupees and United Spirits Ltd's 682.18 billion rupees valuation.

Radico makes Rampur whisky and Jaisalmer Indian craft gin, while United Spirits' brands include Royal Challenge and VAT 69 whiskeys – all liquors more popular than wine in India, where alcohol is still considered taboo in many parts.

Moreover, alcohol distribution is closely regulated in the country, with every state practising its own laws, including strict prohibitionary ones in some regions.

However, Samant said wine has been gaining favour in India in the past few years.

"We saw home consumption rise during the pandemic, and even after (the pandemic) has abated, that trend seems to be sustaining. People are drinking more at home now," Samant said.

Streaming platforms have also helped popularise wine, added Samant, who launched Sula in 1996.

Since then Sula has grown to become India's largest producer and seller of wine, with a portfolio of 56 labels from 13 of its own brands and 20 international ones. Its net revenue rose 8% year-over-year to 4.57 billion rupees in fiscal 2022.

Sula's IPO will be open for subscription from Dec. 12-14 and debut on the stock exchanges between Dec. 20-22, the company said.

Kotak Investment Banking, CLSA and IIFL Securities are the book-running managers for the IPO. ($1 = 82.4700 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Tanvi Mehta in New Delhi and Sriram Mani in Mumbai; Editing by Nivedita Bhattacharjee, Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Savio D'Souza)