Facade of the Louis Vuitton shop of the Champs-Elysees. (File)

Louis Vuitton Offers to Pump $500 Mln Into Indian Billionaire Monk’s Venture


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India’s billionaire monk – Baba Ramdev – has carved a niche market of over $2 billion for his “Made in India” products by delivering emotional advertisements in his own voice, opposing foreign money and multi-national companies. His company, Patanjali, has emerged as one of the fastest growing FMCG companies in India in recent years.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — After positioning himself and his company Patanjali Ayurveda as “anti-multinational,” Baba Ramdev is open to receiving funds from French luxury brand LVMH Moet Hennessy-Louis Vuitton for the “benefit of the country.”

Ravi Thakran, managing partner of L Catterton Asia, a private equity fund co-owned by LMVH, told The Economic Times that Patanjali has been a disruptor in its categories and that it has taken Indian-ness and celebrated it. Thakran believes that Patanjali Ayurved could take its products to Europe, US, Japan, China and South Korea, and that L Catterton could help in that endeavor.

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“I know his model is not to work with multinationals and with foreign money,” Thakran added.

READ MORE: Indian FMCG Brand Giving Sleepless Nights to Entrenched Trans-Atlantic Brands

LMVH’s offer comes after Patanjali Ayurveda signaled its willingness to raise funds from foreign sources to expand its business across India. The company has, however, indicated that it will not entertain foreign entities seeking stakes in the company, but would instead take the foreign money in the form of a loan, if they come with lower interest rates than offered by Indian financial institutions.

“Acharya Balkrishna (Managing Director of Patanjali) has said that just as we use foreign technology for our development, we do not hesitate to use foreign funds for the benefit of our country, but we will take it on our own terms, will not give share/stake,” SK Gupta Tijarawala, Patanjali spokesperson, conveyed on Twitter.

LMVH said it is ready to put USD 500 million, which is half of its remaining Asia fund, into Patanjali.

Patanjali Ayurveda has set a target turnover of $3 billion in the next two years, for which the company is expanding its business in new segments, like textile and food processing. According to Patanjali Ayurveda, it needs close to $800 million to set up plants in Nagpur, Greater Noida, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Haryana and Rajasthan and for the cultivation of aromatic and herbal plants on 10,100 acres of land.

Patanjali Ayurveda currently produces and markets more than 400 products, ranging from packaged food items, toiletries, baby care products and special “ayurvedic food” for the Indian armed forces. Its chief marketing strategy has been to propagate the message that using foreign manufactured products is reminiscent of a “slave mentality.”In an interview published in the Economic Times on September 5 last year, Ramdev made an accusation that, “financial slavery is the root cause of all miseries that these Multi-National Companies have brought into India, social evils such as live-in relationships and homosexuality.”

He has always held that Patanjali’s profits will be used for charity and not given as dividends to shareholders. “We are giving back to the country whatever we are earning,” Ramdev said in the interview.