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How Nepalese billionaire and maker of Wai Wai plans to grow in India

Nepalese billionaire Binod Chaudhary, who made his fortune selling Wai Wai, wants to list his conglomerate Chaudhary Group’s India food unit

Wai Wai is immensely popular in India.(Photo by Taryn Elliott, Pexels)

By Bloomberg

LAST PUBLISHED 15.04.2024  |  09:29 AM IST

Nepalese billionaire Binod Chaudhary, who made his fortune selling instant noodles, is seeking to list his conglomerate Chaudhary Group’s India food unit by 2026. 

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The Gurgaon-based firm, known for its Wai Wai brand of noodles that rivals market leader Maggi from Nestle Ltd. and ITC Ltd.’s Yippee, “would be ready to go for a sizable listing" in the next two years after rolling out new products and acquiring smaller firms in the noodle-related industry, Manvendra Shukla, global chief executive officer at CG Foods India Pvt., said in an interview. He didn’t share any other details.  

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The listing plans for the firm, which has a 28% share in the local instant noodles market and an annual revenue of 8 billion rupees ($96.2 million), are still in the early stages of discussion, he added. It aims to grow its revenue by 15% this year.

CG Foods India’s initial public offering plans follow a rush among foodmakers, including packaged food products maker Gopal Snacks Ltd. and animal protein maker Mukka Proteins Ltd., that have gone public in the past year. The sector has seen the the second-highest number of IPOs in India in the past 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg News show. The mini-IPO boom is being fueled by investors attracted to India’s relative political stability and its status as the fastest-growing major economy amid the slowing pace of expansion in China.

The noodle maker, however, is not rushing to list and plans to bolster its market share and product portfolio first. The company is also looking to buy smaller companies that make seasonings, dips or ketchups, Shukla said.

‘Not Replicated’

Chaudhary Group launched the Wai Wai noodle four decades ago in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, and has since grown to become India’s third largest brand. Wai Wai is known for its pre-seasoned noodle — it comes with a layer of spice in addition to the seasoning pouches in the packet — which means it can also be munched on as a snack without cooking it.

“We have something which is not replicated yet in the market," Shukla said.

CG Foods India currently has seven plants across the country, with Nepal and India contributing over 80% to the group’s food sales. The firm expects to add production lines as volumes continue to grow in India where sales of snacks and soft drinks almost tripled over the past decade in India, exceeding $30 billion. 

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It launched two flavors last month, including a spicier variant called Dynamite, inspired by the Korean cuisine. More products are in the pipeline, including healthier noodle options, according to Shukla. 

“It is a flavor battle," he said.

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