The private equity fund Leopard Capital has purchased a 31.38 percent stake in Nautisco Seafood Manufacturing in Preah Sihanouk province, according to a statement from the investment firm.
The Canadian venture Nautisco announced last October that it would begin producing between 10 and 15 tons of shrimp this year with plans for expansion.
“Seafood processing has long flourished in neighboring Vietnam and Thailand and we are excited to help Nautisco Seafood develop this industry in Cambodia,” Leopard CEO Douglas Clayton said, according to the statement. Officials at both Nautisco and Leopard could not be reached Monday, and the cost of the deal is unclear. The money from the sale will be used partly to repay debt, according to the statement.
Neou Seiha, a senior researcher at the Economic Institute of Cambodia, said investment in food processing is becoming a more attractive option for businesses in Cambodia.
“We have had potential in that area for a long time, but the profitability in real estate and tourism was much higher. That’s why the investment in food processing was quiet,” he said.
But tourism growth has slowed and real estate prices dropped dramatically, making food processing a more likely investment target, he said.
With Cambodia producing so many raw materials through agriculture, the food processing industry should grow this year, he added.
Nautisco was funded partly by $5 million from Canadian investors, the company said last year.
Leopard has raised $34.1 million and has made several investments in the last year.
In March, Leopard and two partners purchased a 1.47 percent stake in Acleda Bank from the Acleda Staff Association for an undisclosed sum.
According to its website, Leopard invested $5 million in a bridge loan used by the Royal Group to buy out its partner Millicom in their joint-venture, the mobile telephone company MobiTel.
The fund has also invested $4 million in the development of a rice plantation, and an additional $2 million for a 55 percent stake in a new boutique beer company to be called Kingdom Breweries.
And it has invested $1.5 million in a Siem Reap real estate project, and $1.3 million in a power transmission station, according to its website.