By  on August 2, 2012

SINGAPORE — L Capital Asia, the private equity fund backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said this week it has bought stakes in an Australian food retailer and an Indian cinema operator, diversifying its existing portfolio of mainly fashion-related investments.

L Capital said Thursday it has taken a 60 percent stake in Jones the Grocer, a gourmet food emporium that also has a presence in Singapore, New Zealand and the Middle East. The acquisition, which cost $18 million, marks a departure from the fund’s policy of only acquiring minority stakes in its investments. L Capital opted for a majority stake due to the small size of the company, which has about 350 employees worldwide, explained a spokeswoman.

L Capital said it would work with Jones the Grocer, which is known for its pastries, to expand into North Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East. It expects the food company to grow five-fold in the next five years but did not quantify the Australian company’s sales volume.

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Separately, L Capital said Wednesday it will buy 10 percent of the listed shares of PVR Ltd., an Indian cinema operator, for 577 million rupees, or about $10.4 million at current exchange. It will also put up 501 million rupees, or about $9 million, for a joint venture with PVR that will invest in food-and-beverage, gaming and other lifestyle-related opportunities in retail malls.

Sanjay Gujral, L Capital Asia’s regional managing director, said PVR has access to prime real estate across India.

The investment comes despite reports that consumer spending in Asia’s third-largest economy will only grow by 5.7 percent this year, down from 24 percent in 2010. Gujral said that he expects multiplexes and cinema operators to see “much healthier growth” than general retail and that India’s cinema entertainment market was still relatively undeveloped.

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