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Unilever sells 34 tea brands – including T2 – to private-equity investor

Unilever has sold its global tea business – including T2 – to private equity company CVC Capital Partners, for €4.5 billion ($A7 billion)

The business, called Ekaterra, owns 34 brands including Lipton, PG tips, Pukka, T2 and Tazo and turned over €2 billion ($A3.1 billion) last year. The company has 11 production factories on four continents and tea estates in three countries. 

“The evolution of our portfolio into higher-growth spaces is an important part of our growth strategy for Unilever,” said CEO Alan Jope of the reason for the divestment. “Our decision to sell Ekaterra demonstrates further progress in delivering against our plans.

“We are proud of the place that our tea business has in our company’s history. We look forward to seeing Ekaterra, with its strong brands and global footprint, prosper under CVC’s ownership.”

The sale is scheduled to be settled during the second half of next year and is subject to receipt of regulatory approvals. The deal excludes Unilever’s tea business in India, Nepal and Indonesia, as well as its joint venture with Pepsi Lipton covering ready-to-drink teas, and any associated distribution business.  

Pev Hooper, a managing partner at CVC Capital Partners described Ekaterra as “a great business, built on strong foundations of leading brands and a purpose-driven approach to its products, people and communities”.

“Ekaterra is well-positioned in an attractive market to accelerate its future growth, and to lead the category’s sustainable development. We look forward to working with the team to realise Ekaterra’s full potential,” said Hooper.

Inside FMCG understands rival private-equity firms Advent and Carlyle unsuccessfully bid for the business. 

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