Investcorp eyes India private equity growth and capital boost for online retailer
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Bahrain-based Investcorp aims to more than double its private equity investments in India over the next few years and is currently looking to raise new capital for online retailer FreshToHome, in which it invested last year, an executive said.

Investcorp is currently managing around $300 million of private equity investments in India, a large majority of which was made over the past 18 months, said Gaurav Sharma, head of private equity at Investcorp India.

The firm, which focuses on private equity, real estate, credit management and absolute return investments, plans to more than double that amount as it seeks to capitalise on India's digitalisation drive, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I would say in the next three to four years we would want to more than double assets under management and invest close to $400-500 million at least in India", Sharma told Reuters.

India has seen the rise of 15 so-called unicorns - startups with a valuation in excess of $1 billion - in the first half of the year alone, Investcorp said in a study.

The country is also seeing strong appetite from public investors, with Indian food delivery startup Zomato raising $1.3 billion in an initial public offering (IPO) this year that was 38 times oversubscribed.

Sharma said Investcorp was working with a global investment bank to raise primary capital for FreshToHome, a direct-to-consumer meat and seafood retailer, which is aiming to expand in other markets such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

"We're expecting a huge mark-up to our investment ... revenues have literally doubled through COVID, and valuations have gone up as well... so we could be looking at a unicorn-plus startup already for this investment", he said.

Investcorp invested in the firm in November last year as part of a $121 million funding round alongside other investors.

The new funding could exceed $200 million, he said, adding that an IPO - while not currently on the cards - could be considered in about two years.

"Public investors will be looking to back a company like FreshToHome, there's a huge ESG (environmental, social and governance) angle as well", he said.

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