April 22, 2014 7:00 pm JST

Singapore's Temasek invests in chocolate distributor FNA

MAYUKO TANI, Nikkei staff writer

SINGAPORE -- Temasek Holdings has invested in FNA Group International, the largest chocolate distributor and retailer in Singapore. 

     FNA is expanding across Asia with its network of multi-brand chocolate stores under The Cocoa Trees brand. It is also expanding as a wholesaler, especially in China. The company's retail strategy is to develop stores in airports, train stations and other places that tourists pass. Temasek, the Singapore sovereign wealth fund, believes the strategy makes FNA a worthwhile investment.

     Heliconia Capital Management, a wholly-owned Temasek subsidiary, made the investment. Although neither party disclosed the amount invested, Wess Wong, finance director of FNA, said that the Temasek stake would amount to less than 20% of FNA. The fresh funds will allow FNA to accelerate its overseas expansion. The link with Temasek is expected to help boost FNA's reputation internationally. FNA is considering whether to publicly list the company within five years.

     FNA deals with popular chocolate brands such as M&M's, Toblerone, Cadbury and Hershey's. The company imports and distributes them to countries including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, China and Taiwan, through The Cocoa Trees boutiques. It also imports and distributes the chocolate to third-party retailers such as duty free shops.

     "Sales of quality chocolate in airports are always good," Wong told The Nikkei Asian Review. "Giving souvenirs is a part of Asian culture, and chocolate, being affordable, is a suitable souvenir," he added. 

     "Travel retail is enjoying high double digit growth as a confluence of factors, such as rising disposable income, the opening up of air travel to a wider group of consumers, and more airports being built," Heliconia Capital's chief executive officer Derek Lau said of FNA in a statement.

     The investment is in line with Temasek's investment themes, one of which is to focus on the growing income of Asian populations.