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Henderson makes debut investment from second Asian fund

The private equity arm of Henderson Global Investors has bought a minority stake in an Indian agrochemical company.

Henderson Equity Partners has invested $21.5 million (€14 million) in Sharda Worldwide Exports, a Mumbai-based agrochemical company. This is the firm’s debut investment from Henderson Asia Pacific Equity Partners II, its second fund focussed on Asia.

Vishal Marwaha, a partner at Henderson Equity Partners, declined to disclose the stake Henderson had taken, but said the firm is looking at increasing its stake in the company to more than 15 percent.

Sharda registers and markets off-patent agrochemicals in over 50 countries and enjoys a presence in the United States, Latin America, the European Union, Africa and Russia.

According to Marwaha, one of the primary reasons Henderson invested in Sharda was its “very different business model”. The company does not engage in the manufacture of agrochemicals – rather, it procures agrochemicals from producers and then sells them in countries in which it owns product registrations. As a result, the company has an asset-light business model, and does not need to make investments in manufacturing capacities.

Marwaha said that Sharda has a big opportunity to acquire more product registrations, especially in the European Union.

The investment in Sharda was made from the firm’s second Asian fund, which it is still raising. The firm is targeting $300 million for this fund, and expects its close in May or June of this year, said Marwaha.

This fund follows Henderson Asia Pacific Equity Partners I, a $210 million fund which is now fully invested. Fund I made a total of nine investments, including four in India.

Henderson’s past investments in India include Bharti TeleVentures, a private telecommunication services provider; HT Media, publisher of newspapers including the Hindustan Times daily; Jubilant Organosys, a company engaged in providing products and services to the life science industry; and Hindustan Sanitaryware & Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of ceramic bathroom products.