Ronnie Screwvala's Unilazer Ventures invests in INI Farms

Wed Jul 4, 2012 1:06pm IST

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Ronnie Screwvala promoted Unilazer Ventures Limited, a Mumbai-based private equity firm, has invested an undisclosed amount in INI Farms Private Limited, a Mumbai-based horticulture farm and exporting company. INI confirmed the transaction to VCCircle but did not share other details.

However, some media reports have pegged the investment at Rs 20 crore for an equity stake of 45 per cent.

Unilazer could not be reached out for comments despite repeated efforts. Post transaction, managing director of Unilazer Ventures, Amit Banka, will join the INI Board as a director.

This is the second round of institutional funding for INI Farms, which had previously raised $0.9 million from Aavishkaar Venture Management in January 2011. Ashish Gupta, MD, Helion Ventures and Pawan Vaish, founder of Daksh BPO are also personal investors in the company.

INI Farms was founded in 20101 by Pankaj Khandelwal. Khandelwal, a graduate from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay (1996) and a gold medallist from Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta (2000), worked with McKinsey, Mumbai, for three years, before venturing into agriculture consulting.

INI Farms exports pomegranates to Europe, Middle East and South east Asia. It currently houses pomegranate plantations in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The company plans to use the capital proceeds to increase its productivity levels. It plans to foray into the cultivation and supply of onions, potatoes, bananas and pineapples.

Unilazer Ventures is focused on undertaking PE investment in agriculture, healthcare, education and e-commerce. Its CEO and founder chairman, Ronnie Screwvala, had recently been in news for selling his stake in UTV Software and investing in Omkar Specialty Chemicals for a minority stake.

Other recent deals in agro, food and beverages industry include Rakesh Jhunjhunwala's $2.18 million investment in Rallis India (June 2012); Deepak Fertiliser's acquisition of 49 per cent stake in Gujarat-based Desai Fruits & Vegetables (Nov 2011), Summit Partners' $30 million investment in Krishidhan Seeds and Nexus Venture Partners' Rs 10 crore funding in Sohan Lal Commodities, an agri-commodity logistical and warehousing entity. Godrej Group has set up an early stage fund, Omnivore Capital, focused on agricultural technology start-ups.

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