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4-2017

Global hop market

A local alternative to mass beer suggested by independent brewers has been successful and is now altering the global market. Beer is becoming more diversified, so transnational companies have to accept the new game rules and to switch focus to young and fast growing markets. All these processes increased the demand for aroma and bitter hop as well as their acreage expansion on two continents. However now there appeared a downward trend of alcohol consumption in the world, so even special sorts can soon turn to be sufficient. In this connection the dynamic American hop market is already facing some problems. EU hop producers have become more cautious, they are not racing to exceed the demand and look forward with more confidence, judging by the contract terms. 

Hop Market in Russia

Germany still dominates the Russian market, yet over the recent two years one has been able observe a continuous success of Czech hop suppliers. Their expansion and growing popularity of hops from the United States became the drivers of supplies growth in 2016 despite the preceding modest harvest crop in the EU, as well as the factor of relative stability in 2017. In this connection, in 2017, the ratio of the varieties continued to shift towards the aroma ones, and the supplies of Magnum hop and other alpha varieties were reduced. However, the import of bitter hop pellets is partially replaced by extracts, especially from the major beer manufacturers. Total volumes of alpha acid supplies, according to our estimation, decreased by approximately 5% and returned to the level of 2015. Barth Haas Group continues dominating the hop products market; HVG also increased its weight. At the same time, Morris Hanbury significantly reduced the supplies in 2017.

United Breweries, Sanofi India and Bayer CropScience boards to go with Vijay Mallya as chairman

Boards of United Breweries, Sanofi India and Bayer CropScienceBSE 0.21 % — all chaired by Vijay Mallya — have not yet seen any revolt against the beleaguered business tycoon almost two weeks after he left the country even as lenders initiates loan recovery proceedings against him.

Several independent board members of these companies, speaking on condition of anonymity, told ET that until they receive any government or regulator's notice questioning Mallya's position they have no plans to ask him to step down as there are no complaints of corporate governance issues or irregularities against the board director.

"The functioning of the companies are smooth and there are no valid issues to ask him to step down," said an independent board member of United Breweries, now majority owned by Dutch beer maker Heineken.

Mallya, whose now defunct Kingfisher AirlinesBSE 3.03 % owes more than Rs 7,000 crore to bankers, did not respond to an emailed questionnaire from ET as of press time Wednesday. Some banks have declared Mallya 'wilful defaulter' and initiated loan recovery proceeding against him. They also approached the Supreme Court to prevent the businessman from travelling abroad because they feared he would settle abroad.

Some directors said the term wilful defaulter has come into usage recently and it is not clear whether it allows banks to stop lending to companies that have a wilful defaulter on its board.

GA Tadas, executive director at IDBI BankBSE 1.60 %, however, said companies have to take action once it is public that one of their board members is a wilful defaulter. "In case a company is non-compliant and still retains a wilful defaulter on its board, then it is for (market regulator) Sebi and RoC (Registrar of Companies) to act against such companies for noncompliance," he said.

Tadas, however, said it is not a problem to lend to a company which has a wilful defaulter on board. Mallya is currently chairman of UB, drug maker Sanofi, and Bayer CropScience, agricultural subsidiary of German chemical and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer AG.

A Bayer spokesperson denied comment on this topic, while an independent director at the firm said any decision on Mallya has to be taken by the German parent. A Sanofi India spokesperson said the board of directors will study the implications of the Sebi notification when it is published, and take action as deemed necessary. Shriram Subramanian, institutional shareholder activist and founder & MD of investor advisory firm Ingovern, said wilful defaulter is not a legally accepted term to debar Mallya from the boards of these companies.

"If Sebi notifies a policy that wilful defaulters cannot be board members then the board will have to ask him to gracefully step down," he said. "Now if the board perceives a reputational risk, it is another issue altogether," Subramanian said.

Several independent board members ET spoke to on these boards, especially United Breweries, said there are no corporate governance issues or irregularities committed by Mallya to ask him to step down. "Reputational risks arises if a regulator or government body challenges Mallya's role on our boards or if Mallya has done some financial impropriety and we do not take note of it, which is not the case now," said an independent board member.

An official at United Breweries, speaking on condition of anonymity, said it will examine the issue if a leading bank such as the State Bank of India "sends a letter saying that it will not lend to companies that have a director as a wilful defaulter".

17 Mar. 2016

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