Hindustan Unilever in talks to buy majority stake in MDH Spices
FMCG giant Hindustan Unilever is in discussions with Mahashian Di Hatti, more popularly known as MDH, to buy a majority stake in the spice maker, Mint reported on March 22. Given its national presence, MDH could be valued between Rs 10,000-15,000, the report said quoting people familiar with the development. Moneycontrol could not independently verify the report.
Other such acquisitions have seen spice makers quoting valuations worth 12-15x the Ebitda. For example, ITC bought Kolkata’s Sunrise Foods for Rs 2,150 crore upping its valuation 25x the previous year’s operating profit. Sunrise’s FY20 Ebitda was Rs 88 crore on a revenue of Rs 591 crore; for comparison MDH earned Rs 507 crore in FY21 on net sales of Rs 1,191 crore. Sources said MDH Spices has also been in discussions with other conglomerates after founder Dharampal Gulati’s death, but did not specify who showed interest.
Marquee investing banking firm Avendus Capital estimates India’s branded spice market will double in size to Rs 50,000 crore by 2025. Notably however, the space is dominated by regional players who cater to consumer preferences and cooking habits which differ across states. Analysts feel that HUL’s entry into the space could change the dynamics, especially if it leverages its distribution muscle to promote MDH after the acquisition. However, some analysts also feel that expansion beyond tier II cities would be a challenge as local brands have built trust for years with people in Tier III, IV and V cities and also cater to specific local palettes through their regional blends. HUL and MDH Spices did not respond to queries, as per the report. MDH Spices sells over 60 products in India and deals with at least 1,000 wholesalers and hundreds of thousands of retailers. Its website claims the company can produce 30 tonnes of spices a day.