Bisleri chairman says he is in talks to sell company to Tata Group -CNBC-TV18

BENGALURU (Reuters) -India's Bisleri International is in talks to sell itself to salt-to-software conglomerate Tata Group, the packaged water company's chairman, Ramesh Chauhan, said in a CNBC-TV18 interview.

Chauhan, however, denied during his interview that a deal was being finalised.

Earlier, the Economic Times reported citing Chauhan that Tata Consumer Products would buy the company for up to 70 billion rupees ($857.38 million).

Bisleri, which competes with Coca-Cola Co's Kinley and PepsiCo Inc's Aquafina, did not respond to Reuters requests for comment. Chauhan could not be reached for comment.

Tata Consumer remains in discussions with various parties, including Bisleri International, as it evaluates various "strategic opportunities for growth and expansion", the company said in a statement, without giving further details.

Chauhan, who launched Bisleri in 1969 as per the company's website, is known for creating famous homegrown soft-drink brands, including ThumsUp, Gold Spot, Citra, Maaza and Limca. He sold the soft-drink portfolio to Coca-Cola in 1993.

Tata Consumer, which sells the popular Tata Salt, Himalayan mineral water and runs a joint venture with Starbucks in India, made an offer for Bisleri in September, according to media reports.

Shares of Tata Consumer rose as much as 3.2% in early trade to hit 794.75 rupees, their highest since Oct. 6.

Tata Consumer Products on Oct. 20 reported a bigger-than-expected rise in quarterly profit, helped by higher salt prices and pent-up demand for everything from mineral water to Starbucks coffee.

($1 = 81.6440 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman and Yagnoseni Das in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V and Anil D'Silva)