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Business

LVMH-backed fund buys Crystal Jade restaurants of Singapore

SINGAPORE -- L Capital Asia, the private equity fund backed by LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton, has bought Crystal Jade Culinary Concepts Holding, which runs the Singapore-based chain of Chinese restaurants. L capital will push the overseas expansion of Crystal Jade, leveraging on LVMH's networks and marketing expertise. It is part of its goal to help grow mass-market consumer brands in emerging Asia.

     The Business Times, a Singapore newspaper, reported that the investment was as large as $100 million, citing market sources. Neither the fund nor the company has disclosed figures.

     The deal was completed in April. L capital is believed to currently hold 90% of Crystal Jade shares, while the rest remain in the hands of the restaurant's CEO Ip Yiu Tung, who has run the company since 1992.

     L Capital Asia has invested in Crystal Jade through its second private equity fund called L Capital Asia 2. Launched in 2013, L Capital Asia 2 has raised $950 million in equity from institutional investors such as sovereign wealth funds and pension funds from North America, Europe and Asia. The fund's investment target will be areas such as fashion, wines, cosmetics, watches and jewelry, where it can fully leverage the strength of LVMH.

     The first fund launched in 2010 raised $637 million and invested in 13 companies, such as Singapore shoe brand Charles & Keith and Taiwan's fashion house Xinhe, known for the Jorya brand. The share of LVMH was less than 5% in the first fund.

     Crystal Jade currently operates 117 outlets, with locations in Singapore, China, South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and Japan. The restaurants include high-end fine-dining, family restaurants, noodle houses and cafes. There are plans to open 12 more outlets in Asia and the U.S. soon.

     Food and beverage companies in Singapore on the whole are struggling due to cost increases and manpower shortages. Ip, who is 65, will stay on one more year as CEO before becoming an adviser.

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