Navis in $200m Thai exit

The Southeast Asia-focused firm gained a 1.9x return on its sale of a poultry business alongside co-investor Rabo Capital.

Navis Capital Partners and Rabo Capital have sold their stakes in duck processing firm Bangkok Ranch and its subsidiary Duck to Holdings to a consortium of investors in a deal worth around $200 million, according to Navis co-founder Nicholas Bloy.

The firms gained a 1.9x return from their respective stakes of 60 percent and 20 percent, he said in an interview. 

The consortium was led by the founders of each company, Joseph Suchaovanich and Gertjan Tomassen, for an enterprise value of THB 5.7 billion (€142 million; $187 million). Both founders were “operationally important” while the private equity pair held the business, Bloy said. 

Since they acquired the firm in 2007, the businesses’ Thai operations increased EBITDA to THB 726 million from the 2007 entry EBITDA of THB 590 million and expanded by acquiring UK- and China-based duck genetics business Cherry Valley Farms. Cherry Valley is not included in the sale, and Navis and Rabo increased their shareholding in the business post-sale.

“We are especially pleased to deliver the business back to the original founders after having grown the business and it’s profitably over the past years,” David Ireland and Jaithip Kanjanapoo, both Thailand-based partners at Navis, said in a statement. “We will remain active in the duck industry going forward as this is only a partial divestment and look forward to expanding our Cherry Valley business throughout the world.”

Bloy echoed this sentiment identifying Thailand’s poultry sector as particularly attractive due to the increased demand for low-cost protein worldwide. “Thailand and Brazil are globally the two low-cost producers of chicken because they have relatively cheap feed, cheap labour for processing and good weather to raise chickens.”

While Bloy expects a number of sectors in Thailand to offer opportunities to private equity investors, he explained it is one of the more difficult Southeast Asian markets for foreign firms to access.

“There is a language barrier, which isn’t present in other Southeast Asian geographies. Reading Thai, speaking Thai [is necessary as] it is very much the language of business. Other markets like the Philippines, Malaysia or Singapore, even in Indonesia, the language in the boardroom is English. I think most firms may be intellectually interested in Thailand, but they just find it harder to get deals done. You need an office and Thai staff in Bangkok to succeed there,” he said.

Navis Capital Partners was founded in 1998 and focuses on private equity investments in Southeast Asia. The firm currently has $3 billion in equity capital and has made over 50 investments in the region, according to the firm. Navis currently has 60 investment team members spread across seven offices in the region.