Samara Capital, Amazon buy supermarket chain More from Aditya Birla

A shopper at a More Supermarket chain. Photo: Livemint

Private equity firm Samara Capital along with Amazon.com Inc, the world’s largest online retailer, have agreed to buy Aditya Birla group’s food and grocery retail chain, More, for an undisclosed sum.

A person close to the development, however, said the transaction was valued at around ₹4,200 crore.

The acquisition of Aditya Birla Retail Ltd, which runs More, will be done through Samara Capital’s arm Witzig Advisory Services Pvt. Ltd in which Amazon is a minority shareholder.

RKN Retail Pvt. Ltd, a promoter entity of Aditya Birla Retail, said it has agreed to sell its entire 62.2% stake in the retailer to Witzig.

“The board of directors of the company, at its meeting held on September 19, 2018, has approved the sale of its entire shareholding in Aditya Birla Retail Ltd,” RKN said in an exchange filing on Wednesday.

Samara and Amazon will be acquiring More through a two-step process.

It will first buy the stake in Aditya Birla Retail from RKN Retail. The balance stake will be acquired from Kanishtha Finance and Investment Pvt. Ltd, another promoter entity of Aditya Birla Retail.

Spokespersons for Samara Capital and Aditya Birla group declined to comment.

Calls and an email query to an Amazon spokesperson in India were not answered immediately.

On 20 August, Mint reported that Amazon and Samara Capital will form an entity to acquire Aditya Birla Retail as foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail is capped at 51%.

“After the closure of transaction, Amazon will hold a 49% stake in the company and the balance will be held by Samara. Amazon will be holding less than the threshold of 51% to avoid complications in seeking approvals,” the person cited above said.

The move to acquire Aditya Birla Retail follows Amazon’s plans to build its food retail business in India for which it has made a separate allocation of $500 million.

More will help Amazon execute its strategy to build out an offline presence in India at a time when its US rival Walmart Inc. is seeking to establish its dominance in online retail through the purchase of Flipkart for $16 billion. In August, Walmart completed its acquisition of Flipkart, India’s biggest e-commerce company.

Aditya Birla group ventured into food and grocery retailing business in 2007 through its acquisition of Trinethra Super Retail.

According to the company’s website, the firm operates 523 supermarkets and 20 hypermarkets under the brand More, making it the fourth-largest supermarket chain in the country, after Reliance Retail, Future Group and D-Mart.

Some of Aditya Birla Retail own brands include More Daily, More Fresh Prarthana and Blueearth.

The transaction will help Aditya Birla Group to pare debt.

The firm’s losses had widened after it acquired five loss-making Total Hypermarkets stores from Jubilant Industries Ltd and its unit Jubilant Agri and Consumer Products Ltd in May 2015.

Samara Capital is a homegrown private equity firm founded by former Citigroup executives.

Some of the firm’s portfolio companies include Ganga Kaveri Seeds, Monte Carlo Fashions Ltd and Asian Oilfield Services Ltd among others.

This article was first published on livemint.com.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.

Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.