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Grapevine: ITC, Paper Boat eye Raw Pressery; Blackstone may buy L&T Mutual Fund
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Premium cold-pressed juices producer Raw Pressery is in talks with multiple consumer goods players including ITC and Paper Boat for either divesting stake or getting on board a strategic investor at a valuation of up to Rs 200 crore ($27.3 million), three officials aware of the development told The Economic Times.

Raw Pressery is backed by a clutch of investors including Alteria Capital, Sequoia Capital, Saama Capital and DSG Consumer Partners.

It is now facing headwinds as consumers in key urban markets downtrade, said one of the officials cited above.

The report comes a month after VCCircle first reported that RAW Pressery was in talks with a few strategic and financial investors to raise capital in a bid to stay afloat.

ITC’s juice brand B Natural operates in the mass-premium segment and competes with Dabur’s Real and PepsiCo’s Tropicana. “A potential buyout will give ITC a footprint in the premium, healthy juices space, which it can leverage through its hotels business,” one of the officials mentioned above said.

Hector Beverages, which makes Paper Boat juices, is another contender for the business. 

Also, Blackstone Group Inc. is in advanced talks to buy L&T Asset Management Co., which had assets under management of Rs 63,057 crore as of September-end across 39 mutual fund schemes, two people with direct knowledge of the matter told Mint.

Blackstone has already received Securities and Exchange Board of India’s (SEBI) approval for the deal. 

“Blackstone had started discussions in March. If the valuation is agreed upon by both L&T and Blackstone, the deal should get closed before 15 November,” said one of the two people cited above.

If the L&T AMC deal is completed, it will add mutual funds to Blackstone’s India buyout portfolio.

It was previously reported that, apart from Axis Mutual Fund and IIFL Mutual Fund, at least three investment managers—Blackstone Group, ChrysCapital and Avendus Capital Pvt. Ltd—had evinced interest in buying a stake in L&T Mutual Fund.

Also, Disney is considering the sale of its stake in Indian direct-to-home (DTH) venture Tata Sky as part of an exit from the distribution sector, which is its non-core business, two people with knowledge of the matter told The Economic Times. Disney is the world’s largest entertainment company.

“Nowhere in the world has Disney any stake in distribution platforms like cable or DTH and it doesn’t make sense for the company to own a minority stake here in India,” said one of the persons.

Disney owns 20% direct stake and a 9.8% indirect stake through TS Investments in Tata Sky. The stake gives Disney two seats on the Tata Sky board.

“It is definitely a grey area for a company like Disney, which is very conscious about its image,” said the person.

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