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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

India's Tata Tea Announces Plan to Establish Local Joint Venture

KOLKATA, India -- India's Tata Tea plans to set up a joint venture company in Russia and is keen on expanding its share of the U.S. beverage market, a senior company official said Friday.

"We are planning to set up a joint venture in Russia, which will look at opportunities in both tea and coffee, for Russia and adjoining areas," R.K. Krishna Kumar, vice chairman of Tata Tea, told reporters after the annual shareholders' meeting.

"We are talking to a few companies, and hope to set up the joint venture by the end of the current fiscal [in March]," he said, without specifying the size of a potential investment.

Tata Tea, the world's second-largest branded tea company, has been expanding its overseas presence, buying herbal and fruit tea brands in the United States and Eastern Europe, and recently taking 70 percent in a joint venture in China for tea.

Tata Tea, which owns the Tetley tea brand, is also keen to increase its portfolio of nontea beverages.

It recently bought a stake in India's Mount Everest Mineral Water after selling its 30 percent holding in Energy Brands to Coca-Cola for $1.2 billion.

It has been reported that Tata Tea, controlled by India's diversified Tata Group, was evaluating Cadbury Schweppes' North American beverages unit and could also make a $2 billion offer for U.S.-based AriZona Beverages.

"We are looking at the beverage market in the [United States], since Tetley already has a footprint in Europe and Canada," he said, adding he would not comment on market speculation on targets.