Brazil's Gavea buys stake in accessories retailer Chilli Beans

SAO PAULO Mon Sep 17, 2012 3:01pm EDT

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SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Gávea Investimentos, the Brazilian investment fund founded by former central bank head Arminio Fraga, on Monday bought a 29.8 percent stake in accessories retailer Chilli Beans to tap higher demand for eyewear and clothing among the nation's emerging middle class.

The private equity unit of Gávea, which is controlled by JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), paid an undisclosed sum for the stake in Chilli Beans, which began as a stand selling sunglasses in São Paulo in 1998. The purchase will give Gávea, based in Rio de Janeiro, space on the board of the retailer, according to a statement.

Chilli Beans founder Caito Maia will remain as the retailer's head. Maia, who is in his early 40s, was spearheading a recent drive to expand Chilli Beans in countries including the United States, Colombia and Angola through the sale of franchises.

"The goal of the deal is to help channel more investment into the company, with a focus of bulking up and expanding the brand in Brazil and overseas," the statement quoted Maia as saying.

The deal comes as local and global buyout firms are increasing purchases of Brazilian companies to take advantage of a market with some 200 million consumers. Last week, the Carlyle Group GC.O, the world's No. 2 private equity firm, paid about $350 million for a 60 percent stake in furniture retailer Tok&Stok.

(Reporting by Vivian Pereira and Guillermo Parra-Bernal; Editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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