By

AIM-listed blank check firm India Hospitality Corp (IHC) is planning to sell part of its stake or completely exit its investment in Mumbai-based Mars Restaurants. Mars is the owner of premium outlets like Tendulkar's, Not Just Jazz By the Bay and the airline catering business SkyGourmet. IHC acquired Mars Restaurants from promoter Sanjay Narang and buyout fund Navis Capital in 2007 for $110 million. It is expecting a valaution of $150 million, reports Economic Times.

The company's CEO Ravi Deol is also said to be looking at possibilty of a management buyout. The report adds that private equity funds like Actis, Standard Chartered PE have been approached. But Deol has been quoted as saying that the plans of a management buyout are "completely baseless." The company has appointed an investment banker to raise $60 million for expanding its hotel and restaurant operations.

According to IHC's recent filings with AIM, the blank check firm has recently raised $4 million in debt from State Bank of India to expand the airline catering business of  SkyGourmet. The filing adds that IHC is aggressively working towards signing hotel management contracts in the largest cities in India.

IHC has appointed Ravi Deol, who was part of the founding team at cafe chain Barista, as the it's new CEO, replacing the interim CEO Richard Foyston. IHC also got a new COO, Sandeep Vyas, who was working with Yum! Brands International's Pizza Hut. IHC

recently announced a loss attributable to shareholders of $5.44 million or $0.20 per share for year 2008.

The news of IHC selling Mars comes in the wake of Navis Capital putting Delhi-based fast food chain Nirula's on the block. Navis bought the company from Delhi-based Nirula's family in 2006 for $20 million or Rs 90 crore.

Leave Your Comment(s)