Lebanese luxury chocolatier Patchi said to eye potential stake sale

Sources say retailer is working on potential deal which is expected to value it at more than $500m

Lebanon-based luxury chocolatier Patchi is working with Goldman Sachs and deNovo Corporate Advisors ahead of a potential stake sale, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters, in a deal expected to value the company at more than $500 million.

The prospective sale would be the latest in the food sector in the Middle East by a family business aiming to support expansion plans and improve governance structures.

Investors have been keen to buy into the market as they target the potential of consumer brands buoyed by spending from the Middle East's growing and increasingly affluent population.

Patchi, which has more than 140 stores across 21 countries in the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa according to its website, could not be reached for comment outside of normal business hours.

The chocolatier was considering the sale of a substantial minority stake, according to two sources who spoke on condition of anonymity as the information isn't public, with one adding this could equate to between 30 and 49 percent being offloaded.

The second source said the company was currently being prepared for the sale process and that Goldman Sachs was working with the company while Dubai-based boutique deNovo was advising members of the family.

Patchi was founded in 1974 by Nizar Choucair, who now serves as chairman.

"It is a good business, with high margins and retail exposure across the region, so I'd expect it to be worth at least $500 million," said the first source, who also confirmed the appointment of Goldman Sachs.

Patchi would join other food and luxury goods companies in the Middle East to have sold stakes in the last year.

Gourmet date company Bateel agreed in January 2015 a partnership with L Capital Asia, a luxury goods-focused private equity firm backed by LVMH.

Last month Investcorp acquired a minority stake in Saudi Arabia's Bindawood Holding, which operates supermarket chains in the kingdom, and fellow private equity house Fajr Capital is in talks to buy a majority stake in Gulf food and beverage franchising group Cravia.

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Posted by: jeff makkis

It is good to see M.E companies are forming alliance with international players.

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