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Taste of Italy fund holds €188.5m close

The firm is targeting €200m to acquire majority and minority stakes in expanding Italian food businesses.

Italian firm Idea Capital has held a third close on food and agri growth equity fund Taste of Italy at €188.5 million, according to a press release.

The firm had held a second close on €140 million in July 2015.

By then, the firm had already at least two investments through the fund, acquiring 70 percent of Italian tortilla-wrap franchising business La Piadineria for €31 million, it’s enterprise value at the time, and agreeing to invest in a company ice-cream manufacturer Indian to expand its of an ice cream manufacturer called Gelati D’Italia.

The fund has attracted Italian food entrepreneurs as well as European institutional investors, and will invest between €10 and €30 million in 10 to 12 companies of similar size to La Piadineria through retail expansion and bolt-on acquisitions. It will also consider minority stake growth capital investments, according to Italian media.

The firm expected to raise €160 to €180 million by the end of 2015 and reach its target of €200 million in the middle of 2015, according to local reports. However, it is still ahead of schedule, having originally planned a final close in 2018.

Italy’s premium food industry has attracted investment, including from fashion entrepeneurs like Diesel and Marni creator Renzo Rosso. With lower demand at home, Italy’s food companies are also looking to expand abroad, and exports are likely to grow by 5 percent a year until 2019, according to state-controlled export credit agency SACE.

There have also been more Italian food businesses with international footprints seeking IPOs, a potential sign of growth in the sector. Coffee-maker Massimo Zanetti Beverage Group and winemaker Masi Agricola have already gone public.

IDeA Capital Funds is owned by DeA Capital and its subsidiary IDeA Alternative Investments. It has a funds of funds programme as well as raising pooled, Europe-focused private equity funds.

The firm manages private equity investments for DeA Capital, a subsidiary of the De Agostini Group, through equity funds and a fund of funds programme, which invests in buyout, venture capital and special situations funds around the world.

In July 2016, the firm announced the launch and first close of IDeA Corporate Credit Recovery Fund I, an investment platform providing funding to Italian mid-sized enterprises.