MUMBAI : Private equity firm True North sold majority stake in VKL Seasoning Pvt. Ltd., to Firmenich, the company said on Tuesday. The deal will enable the Swiss company to have a deeper penetration in the Indian market as the country is one of the fastest growing markets.

True North invested about $40 million in VKL Seasoning for growth and expansion in 2013. "VKL’s impressive customer base coupled with in-depth knowledge of the local palate, has led to significant growth in the industry," said Haresh Chawla, partner, True North.

Some of the private equity firm’s current investments include Zydus Wellness, Atria Convergence Technologies (ACT), an internet service provider, and cab-service provider Meru.

Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, according to a statement by the company.

“India is a critical market for Firmenich and we are committed to investing in our business here both for short and long-term growth," said Patrick Firmenich, chairman of the board, Firmenich, in a statement released by the company. “VKL and Firmenich are extremely complementary to one another and together will offer one of the broadest and most innovative portfolios available to food and beverage companies in India," added Firmenich.

VKL Seasonings Pvt. Ltd (VSPL), established in 1996 in Kerala, is the flagship company of VKL Food Solution Enterprise. The company started operation in 1935 as a spice dealer. It later expanded into private labels and food ingredients business. VKL makes food ingredients and flavoring solutions in India and the Middle East with a focus on quick service restaurants (QSR) and the processed food industry.

The company offers products including sauses, dressings, batter, bread topping and seasonings. The spice-maker has a vast client portfolio ranging from fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies, including Amul, Bikanerwala, Britannia, Nestle, and Gowardhan Dairy, to QSRs, including McDonald’s, Chilli’s, Dominoz, Pizza Hut and Dunkin Donut.

In February, about six flavor makers including Japan-based Takasago International Corp., Ireland-based Kerry Group, German firm Symrise and Firmenich expressed interest in acquiring majority stake in VKL, according to a report by the Economic Times. After the Swiss company’s acquisition, VKL Seasoning will retain its brand identity and will operate as a standalone business within the company.


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