Pernod Ricard India appoints Paul-Robert Bouhier as new CEO amid US$244m tax dispute with Indian authorities
INDIA – Pernod Ricard India Private Ltd, a subsidiary of the French wine and spirits company, Pernod Ricard, has appointed Paul-Robert Bouhier as the new managing director, effective January 1, 2023.
Bouhier will succeed Thibault Cuny, who stepped down in October 2022 due to health reasons after heading the business for four years.
The company added that Bouhier will also become a member of the company’s Asia executive committee and he will report to Philippe Guettat, Chairman and CEO of Pernod Ricard Asia.
In his new role, the French alcohol major said, Bouhier will be responsible for transforming the company’s India business strategy, developing the organization and people, and finding new opportunities for sustainable and profitable business growth.
Joining the French distiller in 1995, throughout his career, Bouhier has held several leadership positions at Pernod Ricard, most recently as Managing Director, Pernod Ricard Southern Europe since 2020.
He has been instrumental in successfully leading the transformation and acceleration in Africa and Southern Europe, keeping the pace of delivering multiple strategic and growth initiatives through strong people engagement, vision, and drive.
“I am glad to welcome Paul-Robert to Pernod Ricard India, which is among the top three must-win markets for the group,” said Philippe Guettat, chairman and CEO, of Pernod Ricard Asia announcing the appointment.
“I am confident that with Paul- Robert at the helm, our focus on premiumization, innovation, digital transformation, and sustainability & responsibility will get further accelerated in line with our transformation agenda.”
Guettat noted that Bouhier has 27 years of international experience in marketing, commercial & general management across markets and brand companies.
Commenting on his announcement, Bouhier was excited to be a part of one of the most versatile markets of Pernod Ricard and looks forward to playing a part in driving the company’s strategic priorities.
Last month, Pernod Ricard said consumer confidence in India is at an all-time high, despite inflation, following a 22% business expansion in India in the last quarter.
India’s alcoholic beverages market was US$52.5 billion in 2020 and it is expected to grow at a CAGR of 6.8% between 2020 and 2023, according to the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations.
However, the Indian firm is facing a push from Indian authorities to pay US$244 million for reportedly undervaluing concentrate imports for over a decade.
According to the notice from India’s customs authority reported by Reuters, the French drinks giant has been undervaluing concentrate imports for the past 10 years.
Indian authorities inspected import bills for 2009-10 to 2020-21, and found Pernod Ricard India had undervalued liquor concentrates in its declarations, said the notice, which resulted in lower import duty payments.
Officials said the company owed an additional duty of 20.1 billion rupees (US$244 million), plus interest, for imports up to 2020.
The 27-page notice revealed that to compensate for the undervalued imports, Pernod Ricard’s India arm had instead paid “hefty” dividends to Pernod Ricard in France. However, import duties on liquor concentrates are 150% while dividends attract lower taxes.
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