Verlinvest raises bet on Future Consumer to over $35M

Belgium's family-owned consumer-sector focused investment company Verlinvest, a Limited Partner for private equity firm Everstone Capital, has picked up raised its holding in the food and FMCG arm of Kishore Biyani-led Future Group.

It picked up close to 2 per cent more in Future Consumer Enterprise Ltd or FCEL (earlier known as Future Ventures) for Rs 59 crore ($8.5 million) on Wednesday. This takes its holding to around 8.5 per cent, making the second largest institutional shareholder of the firm behind portfolio investor Arisaig.

Verlinvest had initially picked 2.9 per cent stake in Future Consumer last September from a foreign portfolio investor entity under BNP Paribas for around Rs 67 crore. Last quarter it raised its holding to 6.5 per cent for an estimated Rs 120 crore.

The latest stake purchase was also from the BNP Paribas entity, stock market filing shows. With this, Verlinvest has shelled out well over Rs 240 crore to buy the shares of Future Consumer.

Verlinvest lists Future Consumer as well as the fashion apparel and accessories company of the Future Group, Future Lifestyle, as part of its global portfolio. It could not be ascertained if BNP Paribas held the stake on behalf of Verlinvest. Verlinvest does not figure among the prominent institutional investors of Future Lifestyle but BNP Paribas entity was listed among those holding over 1 per cent stake in the firm as of June 30.

Verlinvest had not responded to a previous mail by VCCircle to clarify this.

It is also an investor in Future Retail, having built a 2.76 per cent stake in the second half of 2015.

Verlinvest that had separately partnered Everstone in February 2012 to build a portfolio of food and beverage (F&B) assets in India and Southeast Asia is its co-investor in several ventures such as Pan India Food Solutions, a restaurant operator and owner of Noodle Bar, Bombay Blue and Copper Chimney brands.

FCEL is a part of Future Group that operates a neighbourhood retail chain in 102 cities and 60 rural locations.

Besides its food product brands FCEL houses KB's Fairprice and Big Apple, convenience and supermarket chains, besides Aadhaar, a rural wholesale distribution unit. It is also into food parks business.

Last year, the company completed the buyout of convenience stores chain Nilgiri's run by The Nilgiri Dairy Farm Pvt Ltd by acquiring its remaining stake.

In May, it had bought the consumer products division of the diversified Aditya Birla Group firm Grasim Industries Ltd.

Around the same time, FCEL also announced that it is exiting from non-core beauty and wellness chain business, which is housed under its wholly-owned subsidiary Star & Sitara Wellness Ltd.

Shares of Future Consumer last traded at Rs 20.10 each, up 2.5 per cent on BSE in a strong Mumbai market on Wednesday.

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