Baring Asia cements $256m Indian deal

The 14% stake in concrete producer Lafarge India represents one of the largest private equity investments in the country this year.

Baring Private Equity Asia has invested INR 14 billion (€198 million; $256 million) in cement producer Lafarge India, according to a company statement. The firm did not disclose its stake but a source close to the deal said Baring took a 14 percent interest in the company. 

Lafarge India is an affiliate of Lafarge SA, a ready-mix concrete business listed on France’s stock exchange. Its India operation is an entirely separate entity and hopes to expand its reach across the country using Baring’s investment. 

The investment is one of the largest in India so far this year, although a number of other firms have been active in the market signaling an uptick in the country’s private equity activity. In May, Goldman Sachs' private equity arm invested $110 million in Indian cable television business DEN Networks shortly after Tata Capital closed its $600 million Tata Opportunities Fund – the largest maiden vehicle ever raised in the country, according to the firm. 

“Lafarge India is an excellent company operating in a high-growth market and we look forward to working with Lafarge SA and the company's management to further develop the business,” Jean Eric Salata, chief executive of Baring Asia, said in the statement. 

This investment also demonstrates the opportunity for Baring Asia to partner with European and North American corporations in funding the development of their Asian operations

Jean Eric Salata, chief executive, Baring Private Equity Asia

“Having traditionally partnered with numerous entrepreneurs across Asia, this investment also demonstrates the opportunities for Baring Asia to partner with European and North American corporations in funding the development of their Asian operations.”

Over the last 18 months, Baring Asia has realised investments totaling about $800 million and representing an average multiple of over four times, Salata revealed to Private Equity International earlier. 

Divestments included last year's IPO in Singapore of electronics and furniture retailer Courts Asia, which raised about $110 million, and the sale of confectionary company Hsu Fu Chi to Nestlé for $1.7 billion in 2011, one of China’s largest trade sales.

“The last 18 months have been the biggest period for us in realisations in our history,” Salata said.

Baring Private Equity Asia is an Asia-focused GP with about $5 billion in assets under management, according to PEI’s Research & Analytics division. The firm is currently investing its fifth Asia vehicle, which hit its hard cap of $2.46 billion in
February 2011 after only five months in the market.