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Cocoberry in talks with Abraaj, PEs to raise Rs 70 crore

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Specialty food company chain Cocoberry is in talks with Dubai-based Abraaj Capital to raise about 70 crore for a minority stake, a person with direct knowledge of the development told ET.

Abraaj is the frontrunner among 4-5 investors the Gurgaon-based company is negotiating with, another person familiar with the company’s plans said. The list includes Norwest Venture Partners, Temasek Holdings and Arcapita , a Bahrain-based PE house.

The funding, if it happens, will help Cocoberry enter the Middle East region besides expanding its reach within India, the person added.

Cocoberry, the country’s first premium frozen yogurt chain, sells its products across 27 retail outlets in the country. It plans to ramp up the number of outlets to 100 by the end of this year. It also plans to tie up with other retailers to strengthen its distribution network. It has struck deals with hospital chain Fortis Healthcare and multiplex chain DT Cinema to open Cocoberry outlets in their premises. Emails sent to Cocoberry promoter GS Bhalla and Abraaj Capital didn’t elicit any response.

Abraaj, which is one of the biggest private equity funds operating in the Gulf region, has raised $7 billion since its inception in 2002. In India it invests through a joint venture fund with Sabre Capital Worldwide, formed by former Standard Chartered Bank CEO Rana Talwar. Its investments in the country include companies like Ramky Infrastructure , ECI Engineering Construction, and Man Infraconstruction .

Earlier this year, Cocoberry raised $2 million (about 10 crore) from Ajay Relan, founder of private equity fund CX Partners, to expand its business across geographies and to introduce new products.

In the previous fiscal, Cocoberry registered a total turnover of 5 crore. It is reportedly growing at 300 per cent annually.

Investor interest is growing in the Indian food market where several firms are expanding their operations.

In May, India’s largest private bank ICICI had invested close to 175 crore in Devyani International, RJ Corp’s foods arm that holds franchisee rights for Yum Restaurants-owned Pizza Hut and KFC, and exclusive franchisee rights for UK-based coffee chain Costa Coffee .

Investor interest in the food and restaurant sector got a boost after the listing of Jubilant Foodworks, that runs the fast-food retail chain under the Dominos pizza brand in India. JP Morgan exited Jubilant in the IPO, reaping more than five times return. 
Source  –  The Economic Times

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