Deal Talk: PE funds eye pharma, road firms; CDPQ forms realty JV

 Deal Talk: PE funds eye pharma, road firms; CDPQ forms realty JV

Canadian alternative investment firm Brookfield Asset Management Inc private equity firm Actis have shown interest in acquiring a unit of Indian infrastructure company Ashoka Buildcon Ltd, a media report said.

The National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), the Indian government’s quasi-wealth fund, is also in the race for Ashoka Concessions Ltd, according to a report by the Mint newspaper.

The deal may have an implied equity value of $350 million (Rs 2,555 crore) and an enterprise value—which includes debt—of $1.2 billion, the report added.

Ashoka Buildcon has a 61% stake in Ashoka Concessions, which has 15 road assets. The remaining 39% is held by Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, one of the biggest foreign infrastructure investors in India.

Solara Active

Private equity firms Advent International, Carlyle Group, True North and Temasek have shown interest to acquire a controlling stake in Solara Active Pharma Sciences Ltd, according to a report by The Economic Times.

Solara Active was formed after demerging the active pharmaceutical ingredient businesses of Strides Pharma Science and SeQuent Scientific Ltd.

Solara Active’s promoters, Arun Kumar and KR Ravishankar, together own a 44% stake in the company. Existing PE backer TPG Capital, which invested two years ago, owns 15.2%.

CDPQ-Embassy office platform

Indian developer Embassy Group and Canada’s second-largest pension fund CDPQ, short for Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, have formed a commercial office platform, according to Mint.

CDPQ — through its subsidiary Ivanhoe Cambridge — and Embassy are contributing $150 million and $30 million, respectively, in the 80:20 JV.

The platform will be established as an alternative investment fund. It is awaiting approval from the capital markets regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India, the report said.

Reliance-Milkbasket acquisition

The retail arm of billionaire Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd will acquire online milk delivery startup MilkBasket, according to a report by news website Entrackr.

Gurugram-based MilkBasket, which delivers groceries, milk and other everyday essentials, is in the final stages of discussions with the oil-to-telecom conglomerate. The deal size is in the range of $40-43 million, the report said.

MilkBasket has been looking for suitors since the second half of 2020. Its chief executive officer and co-founder Anat Goal will join Reliance, the report said. Its other co-founders will exit.


Singapore state investment firm Temasek is in final stages to invest $30 million (about Rs 220 crore) in ed-tech company Lido Learning, according to reports by DealStreetAsia and VCCircle.

Temasek plans to acquire a 30% stake in the company via a Series C financing round that will value the startup at $100 million. This may be Temasek’s maiden investment in India’s online education services segment.

Open buys Optobizz

Neo-banking startup Open Financial Technologies Pvt Ltd has bought Optobizz, a tax filing automation platform, for $5 million (almost Rs 36 crore) in a cash and stock deal.

Open, which focuses on small and medium enterprises, said the deal will boost its position in the SME segment and improve product capabilities on automating tax compliance.

Open is backed by a number of investors including US-based Tiger Global. It had raised around $30 million in a Series B funding round from Tiger, Tanglin Venture Partners, 3one4 Capital and other investors.

New VC fund

Freshworks co-founder Girish Mathrubootham and Eka Software founder Manav Garg have teamed up to launch a venture capital fund that will invest in new-age software services startups in India, according to The CapTable.

The VC fund is looking to pool in $80 million. It is aiming to tap other tech entrepreneurs from India and elsewhere.

JP Morgan’s part-exit

Private equity investor JP Morgan CMDB II, which invested in Pvt. Ltd in 2015, has part exited its six-year-old bet on the online matchmaking and marriage services provider, according to stock exchange disclosures.

In the latest tranche, CMDB II sold 250,000 Matrimony shares worth Rs 22 crore ($3 million at current exchange rates). The PE fund had sold 500,000 shares in December worth Rs 36 crore, stock exchange data showed.


Byju’s has acquired Scholr in an all-cash deal even as it is rumoured to be negotiating two other big transactions in the ed-tech space to snap Blackstone-backed Aakash and Elevation-backed Toppr, according to Entrackr. The publication said the deal has already been signed and is in the Rs 15-20 crore range, citing an unnamed source.

Scholr caters to students in the class 6 to 10 via multimedia mode where users can click and upload pictured of their study related queries across subjects that is solved by teachers on-demand.

Earlier, Byju’s was looking to buy Doubtnut that offered similar services but the deal didn’t materialise.


EkAnek that operates beauty related e-commerce app Foxy has bought community-led commerce platform Marsplay, according to Entrackr. The publication pegged the deal size at Rs 8-10 crore and hinted the deal marked a haircut for the venture investors. Marsplay had raised funding from Venture Highway and prominent angels such as former YouTube India head Amit Agrawal, Bounce chief executive Vivekananda Hallekere, TPG Growth Partners’ Shailesh Rao and ICICI Ventures’ Nikhil Mohta.

Square Yards

Prop-tech firm Square Yards has acquired PropsAMC, a data intelligence, asset management, and real estate services firm for an undisclosed amount. PropsAMC has a SaaS platform and claims to manage $1.5 billion worth of property assets for more than 100 clients.


Times Internet-owned the restaurant table reservation platform Dineout has acquired event curator SteppinOut for an undisclosed amount. SteppinOut curates’ events such as food festivals and night markets. This marks the return of inorganic expansion strategy for Dineout that has been actively buying companies in 2018-19 but had gone quiet since then. Previously it had bought Binge Digital, inResto, Torqus and Gourmet Passport. Dineout essentially competes with Eazydiner.

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