Malayali billionaire to acquire stake in East India Company

Malayali billionaire to acquire stake in East India Company

KOCHI : A Malayali entrepreneur who built up a flourishing business empire is now acquiring a stake in a company that was originally into the business of empire building.M A Yusuffali, the Abu Dhabi-based billionaire, is acquiring the stake inThe East India Company Ltd(EIC), the British trading company that once ruled India and dominated the global spice trade.

Yusuffali is acquiring 10-15% stake in EIC, which is the holding company for the brand East India Company, said a source who is privy to the developments. He will also own 40% shares inEast India Company Fine Foods Ltd, a group company of EIC, which will be setting up high-end boutique selling premium tea and crockery. East India Company Fine Foods is planning to open boutiques across the Commonwealth countries – in fact, any country where the brand East India Company is readily recognized.

The deal between Yusuffalis Emke Group and EIC is expected to be signed on October 8 or 9 in London. Yusuffali would be selling EIC products through his hypermarkets spread across the Middle East and India.

Originally founded as The Company of Merchants of London trading into the East Indies, by a royal charter on the last day of 1600, EIC had grown into the largest trading house in the world, accounting for nearly half of the global trade at one point. During its period of growth, the company diversified from spices to tea, cotton, silks, indigo and opium, while shifting its focus from commerce to conquest.

After the British monarchy dissolved its powers in 1874, EIC remained dormant till 2010, when India-born entrepreneur Sanjiv Mehta revived the brand name. Over a four-year period, he acquired the entire stake of the company from its 33 shareholders and opened a flagship store in Mayfair selling tea, chocolate, coffee, wines, jams, mustard and biscuits.

Emke Group has operations in 32 countries, with staff strength of 31,000 and reported revenues of $5.4 billion during calendar year 2013. Mehta declined to reply to an email from TOI.

In January 2011,Mahindra Group, a leading Indian automotive manufacturer, had acquired a minority stake in EIC for an undisclosed sum.

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