Sweden’s Serkland to invest in Iran plastics packaging leader Moheb

Bourse and Bazaar | Esfandyar Batmanghelidj: A Swedish investment company is “on course” to make a landmark investment in Moheb, the leading manufacturer of plastic and laminate tubes in Iran and the Middle East. The deal represents one of the first private equity investments made by foreign investor in a growth-stage Iranian company, outside the digital sector.

Serkland Group, founded in 2016 and headquartered in Stockholm, is focused on investment opportunities in the Iranian consumer sector. The company is primarily backed by Scandinavian family investment offices, high net worth individuals and institutions. Serkland’s first investment in Iran was completed last summer, which saw the Swedish firm invest EUR 17.5 million in one of Iran’s leading pharmaceutical companies.

This new deal, though representing a smaller investment, sees Serkland take a significant minority stake in Moheb. Founded in 1998, Moheb Packaging & Plastic Industrial Company a family-owned business headquartered in Tehran. The company has grown rapidly to meet the packaging needs of Iran’s FMCG manufacturers and produces plastic and laminate tubes for both foodstuffs and cosmetics. Moheb enjoys 75 percent market share in Iran.

Amir Hossein Alambeigi, co-founder and CEO of Moheb, noted that the Serkland investment would enable Moheb to solidify its “market leading position” and to “capitalize on substantial opportunities ahead, both locally and in the wider region.”

The investment will see Serkland take an approximately 40 percent stake in Moheb, and will receive two of five board seats. Mohsen Tavakol, a partner at Serkland, stated that the goal is to leverage the board positions to “instill corporate governance, strategic management, operational and financial best practices” in Moheb to help improve competitiveness and develop the company into an “international corporation.”

The deal is just one in Serkland’s reported “EUR 100 million pipeline of around two dozen Iranian consumer goods companies.” The company is aiming to make six acquisitions by the end of 2018. One pending deal would see Serkland invest alongside a multinational partner in a chocolate confectionary company.

While Serkland is not a private equity fund, its investments, like that in Moheb, provide an early template for private equity in Iran, where new capital is used to enable sales growth through expanded exports.

The executives involved expressed pride that the investment is taking place at a time of political uncertainty. Omid Gholamifar, CEO of Serkland, highlighted his company’s progress “at a time when many are hesitating.”

Bakhtiyar Alambeigi, co-founder and Chairman of Moheb, echoed this sentiment, stating, “Moheb is proud [to be] one of the first private companies in Iran to have been able to attract foreign investment… after the signing of the JCPOA.” Alambeigi hopes that the deal will “will help other companies in Iran to attract foreign investments” by creating a “success story” for the business community at large.