‘How I brought Varun to Zim’

BUSINESS REPORTER

Businessman Adam Molai says it was a case of “friendship meeting friendship” that resulted in Ravi Jaipuria’s Varun Beverages investing in Zimbabwe.

Varun Beverages is the second largest franchisee in the world (outside US) of carbonated soft drinks and non-carbonated beverages sold under trademarks owned by PepsiCo.

The businessman told Business Times he met the Indian billionaire through a friend.

“The second largest producer of cigarettes in India is Godfrey Phillips, which is a joint venture between the Modi family and Phillip Morris, the largest global cigarette manufacturer (excluding the Chinese National Tobacco Company). Through a mutual friend, an introduction was made to Lalit Modi who is one of the directors of Godfrey Phillips. We met in London and became very good friends over several years.” The friendship with Lalit Modi blossomed over years and the two attempted to do a joint venture between Godfrey Phillips and Pacific Cigarette Company for Africa.

When Lalit Modi, who had not been able to travel from London for several years, was able to travel, he always promised his first trip would be to visit me in Zimbabwe, Molai said.

“True to his form and true to his word, Lalit came and we spent several days at Singita Pamushana Lodge to stay away from the public glare. When Lalit came he brought with him Ravi Jaipuria and a former owner of the Rangers Football club. A friendship then formed with Ravi which then culminated in the investment by Varun beverages into Zimbabwe. So, it was just a case of friendship meets friendship,” he said.

He said it was neither business acumen nor being swayed by any office as Jaipuria never met former President Robert Mugabe before making the investment.

He first met the former President, alongside a number of Indian investors at the India-Africa summit in Delhi.

“Many of my previous and current business opportunities emanate from relationships. I believe business is more about relationships than about money. If people trust you and know you to perform and can relate with you, they will want to do business with you. I only do business with people I like,” Molai said, adding that he was still in Varun Beverages Zimbabwe.

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