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Lone-LP fund seals first deal as Unigrains internationalizes

The French agri-business stalwart has backed a Spanish coconut water business through a vehicle managed by MCH.

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The French agri-business stalwart has backed a Spanish coconut water business through a vehicle managed by MCH.

Unigrains Iberian Capital Fund has taken a minority stake in Zaragoza-based Genuine Coconut.

The deal marks the first investment by the €20 million vehicle, whose sole limited partner is French agribusiness investor Unigrains. Launched earlier this year, UICF aims to deploy between €3 million and €5 million of equity per deal. The Genuine Coconut transaction was no exception, a spokesman for the firm told Agri Investor.

The fund is being managed by Iberian specialist MCH Private Equity, with which Unigrains has previously partnered on a deal-by-deal basis. The French firm decided to establish the fund as it sought greater exposure to Spain, the spokesman said. UICF is closed for now but could be expanded in future if Unigrains sees fit.

“The Iberian Capital Fund and our partnership with MCH Private Equity represent a key step in Unigrains’ internationalization,” noted Jean-François Laurain, Unigrains’ chief executive.

The firm expects to make five or six investments with the fund, which only takes minority positions. Unigrains did not wish to comment on return expectations.

Founded two years ago, Genuine Coconut sells organic and unprocessed coconut water, to be consumed in original coconut shells. The company has 51 staff and expects to generate €6 million in revenue in 2017. Distributed across international retail chains across Europe, it now has its eyes set on North America.

“The investment in Genuine Coconut is going to be the first of a series of investments that will position the Unigrains-MCH fund as the leading Iberian investor in the agri-food industry,” said Francisco Caro, a partner at MCH.

Just days ago, Unigrains subsidiary Céréa announced hires that showed its intent to grow its agri-debt arm – shortly after closing a €268 million dedicated fund – and support deployment of its latest private equity vehicle, closed in January on €225 million.