TPG Said to Be in Talks to Invest in Chobani

Image The private equity giant TPG is in advanced talks to invest in Chobani, the fast-growing yogurt maker in upstate New York, two people briefed on the matter said on Thursday. Chobani was in discussions earlier this month with six potential investors, as it sought capital to help it grow internationally, a person with knowledge of the talks said at the time. Among other options, the company was considering selling a stake of 15 percent or less at a valuation of $5 billion.

TPG is now apparently the lead bidder. The structure of a potential investment from TPG has yet to be finalized, one of the people briefed on the matter said. The situation is fluid and the talks may not lead to a deal.

A spokesman for Chobani said the company declined to comment. A spokesman for TPG also declined to comment.

Chobani, a nine-year-old company that remains closely held by its founder, is turning heads on Wall Street as it capitalizes on the enormous popularity of Greek yogurt in the United States. Its sales grew more than 30 percent last year to more than $1 billion.

TPG, a big investment firm with offices in San Francisco and Fort Worth, has been active recently in the world of young, fast-growing companies.

Its growth capital arm is in talks to raise more than $400 million for the home-sharing company Airbnb, people briefed on the matter have said. Last summer, TPG Growth partnered with Google’s venture capital division to invest $258 million in Uber, the car service.

Should the Chobani deal materialize, TPG would add another hot start-up to its portfolio. But unlike Uber and Airbnb, which are contending with regulatory headaches from local governments, Chobani has been warmly embraced by politicians in New York, who see yogurt production as a booming business in an otherwise sleepy region.

Some of Chobani’s political friends rushed to the company’s defense when the Russian government blocked a shipment of its yogurt bound for American athletes competing in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Unfortunately for Chobani, the standoff was never resolved, and the company had to donate the shipment of yogurt to local food banks. (By WILLIAM ALDEN\
Last modified onSaturday, 06 May 2017 10:07