Home-grown private equity fund Samara Capital and Amazon have signed a deal to acquire Aditya Birla Group's food and grocery retail chain, More. More is the fourth-largest supermarket chain in the country after Future Group's Big Bazaar, Reliance Retail and DMart. Samara Capital and Amazon acquired the retail chain for an enterprise valuation of Rs 4,200 crore. Aditya Birla Retail Ltd (ABRL) owns 575 More stores and operates them.
Samara Capital acquired 51% of Kumar Mangalam Birla's ABRL, while Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC, Amazon's investment arm acquired the rest 49%. The deal will now be subject to clearance from the Competition Commission of India (CCI).
Samara Capital made its investment through its alternative investment fund, Samara AIF that is backed by multiple overseas investors. However, since Samara AIF is sponsored and managed by Indians, it will be considered a domestic firm, irrespective of the percentage of foreign corpus, as mentioned in a report in The Economic Times.
The daily further mentions that the acquisition is through an existing facility management back-end company. An executive said that since the back-end company has no restriction on FDI, there is no problem, implying that ABRL need not take individual permissions from state governments to operate More stores, a requirement under multi-brand retail FDI.
The deal will take care of ABRL's debt that stood at Rs 4,000 crore as of March 2018. Once the process is complete Samara Capital and Amazon plan to rapidly expand the chain which was put on hold due to its burgeoning debt. They plan to set up 100-150 stores every year including neighbourhood supermarkets and hypermarkets. The plan for the current fiscal is to set up 90 stores.
Till August, Samara Capital was in negotiations with Amazon and Goldman Sachs to form a consortium to acquire ABRL. However, Goldman Sachs exited the consortium.
This is Amazon's second direct investment in India's offline retail space. The company had acquired 5% in department store chain Shoppers Stop for Rs 180 crore in September last year.
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)