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Amazon’s partner Samara Capital plans $500 million India-focused fund

Private equity firm and Amazon India’s local partner – Samara Capital plans to raise close to $500 million for a new fund targeting Indian startups.Samara Capital logo mockup

In an interview with Bloomberg, Samara’s founder and managing director, Sumeet Narang, stated that the fund will be closed in the second half of 2022. “We have started the roadshows and many of our existing investors across the US, Europe, Middle East, and the Asia Pacific have already signed up,” Narang added.

The 15-year-old mid-market private equity firm claims to have invested over $1 billion since its inception. Samara is interested in maximizing investments in a consumer market with a demographic of more than a billion people. Last year, around 120 companies, ranging from online grocers to food delivery and cosmetics startups, raised over $18 billion in initial public offerings, a record for the country. The fund will seek to invest $50 million to $400 million in mid-market companies for a majority stake, according to Narang.

Global e-commerce giant Amazon and Samara Capital are partners in investment platform Witzig Advisory Services that bought More Retail from Aditya Birla Group in 2019. Witzig Advisory Services, the holding company of the More supermarket chain, has attracted a combined investment of Rs 275 crore from Amazon and Samara Capital.

Samara, which owns 51 percent of Witzig, poured in way more money than Amazon. It’s worth noting that Amazon has already invested in Indian startups through Samara. In September 2018, the Samara Capital and Amazon consortium acquired More Retail for Rs 4,050 crore.

Before approaching Reliance Retail in June 2020, Kishore Biyani’s Future Group approached Amazon-Samara Capital and Premji Invest. Kishore Biyani was reportedly seeking to liquidate a big portion of his company’s stock (about 20 percent of the company’s shareholding). Premji Invest directly controls 6 percent of Future Retail Limited, while Amazon indirectly owns 3 percent of the company. Amazon was also planning to invest in Rajiv Goenka’s Spencer Retail (Spencer’s) through Samara. The e-commerce giant also made an investment in Future Group’s Hypercity through its investment subsidiary Amazon NV Holdings in December 2017, securing a 5 percent stake.

Earlier this month the Homegrown private equity fund took control of Paradise Food Court, absorbing the majority of the promoters’ 51 percent shareholding in the restaurant chain famous for its iconic Hyderabadi biryani. According to reports, Samara, which previously held a 49 percent ownership, has invested around $75 million (Rs560 crore) to acquire the stake from promoters and as a fresh investment in the company. The company’s former promoters will now control around 3-4 percent of it.

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