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Gourmet date company Bateel to sell minority stake

By Reuters

Bateel, which makes chocolate-covered dates and other delicacies, is looking to sell a minority stake and two international investors are said to be interested, people familiar with the matter said.

One of the potential bidders is L Capital, a luxury goods-focused private equity firm backed by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, according to one of the sources.

Bateel, a Riyadh-based date farmer, has successfully marketed the fruit as a gourmet product by wrapping it in chocolate or filling it with orange or almond. It has mandated Jeddah-based Jadwa Investment to manage the sale, according to one private equity source.

A stake of between 20 per cent and 40 per cent could be sold, according to three sources with knowledge of the sale. The sources spoke on condition of anonymity as the information is not public.

Bateel did not respond to Reuters requests for comment. L Capital could not immediately be reached for comment

Bateel operates in 15 countries and has its own date groves in Al Ghat, central Saudi Arabia. The company has also launched a chain of cafés and bakeries for gourmet food and beverages.

The proposed transaction is the latest example of acquisition activity in the region's consumer product industry, as investors look to tap into the Middle East's increasingly wealthy young population.

Also, family-owned businesses are looking to offload stakes to raise cash and, in some cases, bring in private equity or strategic shareholders to provide the expertise to expand.

Jordan's Nuqul Group is selling a 25 per cent stake in FINE Hygienic Holdings, one of the Middle East's largest tissue and paper products manufacturers, in a deal that could be worth up to $200 million, sources told Reuters earlier this month.

Lebanon-based retailer Azadea Group, a family group which holds franchise rights in the region for brands including Gap , Zara and Superdry, is hoping to raise up to $500 million from a 25 percent stake sale.