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Report: Coca-Cola, Cadila emerge as favorites to buy Kraft Heinz's India brands

U.S. beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. and Indian pharmaceutical company Cadila Healthcare Ltd. are considered as frontrunners in the race for acquiring Kraft Heinz Co.'s consumer portfolio in India, the Economic Times (India) reported Sept. 6, citing people with knowledge of the matter.

Coca-Cola is the latest reported bidder in the sale of Kraft Heinz's brands, which include children's milk drink Complan and Nycil talcum powder. The report said the U.S. packaged food producer is seeking approximately $1 billion from the asset sale and has tapped investment bank JPMorgan Chase & Co. earlier this year to handle the sale.

Coca-Cola and Cadila reportedly are in final negotiations with Kraft Heinz and are expected to submit binding bids in the coming days.

Kraft Heinz reportedly narrowed the bidding pool in August and shortlisted Indian conglomerate Tata Group, consumer goods company Dabur India Ltd., Wipro Consumer Care & Lighting Ltd., Cadila and French packaged food producer Danone.

The ET said the asset sale also attracted interest from Swiss consumer goods giant Nestlé SA, Indian personal products company Emami Ltd. and Indian tobacco and food company ITC Ltd., but they were either not shortlisted or did not pursue a bid after initial evaluations.

The report said Coca-Cola is expected to be the more aggressive bidder after acquiring U.K-based coffee shop chain Costa Ltd. from Whitbread PLC. In June, the Atlanta-based soft-drinks maker was reported to have joined the bid for GlaxoSmithKline PLC's India-focused GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare Ltd.

Meanwhile, a deal between Cadila and Kraft Heinz could boost the consumer business of Zydus Wellness Ltd., a subsidiary of Cadila, with the addition of Kraft Heinz's brands into its own portfolio of personal and skin care products, sugar substitutes and health foods, the report said.

The news outlet said Coca-Cola declined to comment, while Zydus Cadila did not immediately respond to requests for comment.