Nandan Nilekani bets on ethnic retailer Fabindia

Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani and his wife, Rohini, have acquired a 2% stake in ethnic retailer Fabindia Overseas Pvt Ltd for about Rs 100 crore ($14.6 million), a media report said.

The Nilekanis bought the stake through their family office Entrust, The Economic Times reported, citing two people familiar with the deal. The transaction valued the company at nearly Rs 5,000 crore, the report said. 

The report also said that a Fabindia spokesperson confirmed the deal but didn’t reveal the size of the stake bought or the valuation.

Neither Fabindia nor Entrust replied to email queries seeking comment till the time of filing this report. It isn’t clear if the Nilekanis invested in a fresh fundraising round or if they bought the stake in a secondary deal.

The apparel retailer is also backed by Wipro chairman Azim Premji's private investment arm PremjiInvest, which holds a 25% stake.

Fabindia, which was launched in 1960 to market the diverse craft traditions of India, recently saw L Capital, a private equity firm backed by global luxury conglomerate LVMH group, exit after selling its 16% stake to Hasham Investment and Trading Co. Pvt. Ltd, an affiliate of PremjiInvest. 

The company’s promoters bought back a 4% stake held by L Capital in Fabindia International Pte Ltd through that deal.

Though the company started as an exporter of home furnishings, it forayed into retail in 1975 with the launch of its first company-operated store in Greater Kailash area in Delhi. The company also offers handcrafted jewellery, organic foods and personal care products.

Fabindia has 229 stores in India and 10 abroad. The company also runs an online portal to sell its products. 

Nilekani has been an active investor in startups in the recent past. This year he has invested in eye-care chain Disha Medical Services Pvt Ltd, industrial robots maker Systemantics India Pvt Ltd, online marketplace Power2SME and RailYatri, a crowdsourced platform for train-related services.

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