M a r k e t N e w s

Nairobi: Chandaria Industries buys stake in low-cost car firm

Posted on : Friday, 5th December 2014

Billionaire businessman Mahesh Chandaria’s family has acquired an undisclosed stake in Mobius Motors, the start-up auto firm that is building Africa’s cheapest car.

Chandaria Industries, makers of hygiene products that are the flagship of the Chandaria Group, made the investment through capital injection into Mobius in return for a stake in the early stages of the car maker, highlighting increased investor interest in the low-cost vehicle market.
The Chandaria Group’s investment in Mobius came just a few months after US billionaire Ronald Lauder, who is worth about $3.8 billion according to Forbes, and former chairman of Citigroup Richard Parsons invested an undisclosed amount of money in the Kenyan motor company.
Darshan Chandaria, a director of Chandaria Industries and a son of Mahesh Chandaria, said his immediate family had invested in Mobius to help the business tap into Kenya’s growing motor market, diversify revenue streams and cut its dependence on hygiene products.
“We’re excited about this investment because Mobius caters for a market segment in which no other firm is playing. Small businesses are looking for a new car that combines functionality and durability at an affordable price and this is what we are providing in Mobius,” he said.
“We have done our research and given it a lot of thought,” said the 29-year-old Chandaria, who brokered the deal.
The Mobius II brand is priced at Sh950,000 excluding VAT or Sh1.1 million inclusive of taxes – making it the lowest priced new vehicle in Kenya.
The low-priced car is the brainchild of Joel Jackson, a 29-year-old British entrepreneur who has lived in Kenya since 2009.
Mr Jackson was recently included in the Forbes 30 under 30 listing of top entrepreneurs. He graduated in 2006 with a First Class honours degree in computer science from the Imperial College London.
The Chandarias’ investment in Mobius marks the entry of Kenya’s manufacturing oligarch into the motor industry after nearly five decades in the fast moving consumer good market.
The Chandaria business empire (no direct relationship to the Comcraft Group owned by the family of billionaire Manilal 'Manu' Chandaria, who is Mahesh Chandaria's uncle) includes interests in tissue paper, hygiene products, iron roofing, kitchenware — including pots and pans — banking, petroleum, real estate and packaging.
Mr Chandaria said Mobius’ target market is small and mid-sized enterprises (SMEs) in agribusiness, infrastructure and supplies operating in remote rural areas and need a car that can withstand the rough terrain.
“Our target is SMEs in rural areas but this is a machine that can easily be converted into a family car in the evening,” he said.

Source : businessdailyafrica.com
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