Chicago-based private equity firm MAB Capital Management has announced the launch of Liquid Asset Brands (LAB) Innovation Fund I, a $50 million fund targeting equity investments in early stage beverage businesses. Headed up by MAB Capital’s Managing Partner Marc Bushala, the launch of LAB comes on the heels of the sale of craft whiskey producer Angel’s Share Brands, of which Bushala was President and CEO, to Bacardi Limited last month.
“As we came to the conclusion of the sale of [Angel’s Share Brands] we had a pretty solid group of investors from that deal that were all looking forward to what the next thing would be,” Bushala said in a call to BevNET. “We were going back and forth between the idea of creating our own brands or investing in companies we thought had great potential and the final analysis was that those two things are not mutually exclusive.”
LAB is seeking investments ranging from $3 million to $10 million in early stage beverage businesses, and will not be exclusive to the alcoholic segment. In addition to getting involved in non-alcoholic brands, Bushala says the fund is also exploring possible investment opportunities in digital apps and other services pertaining to the beverage industry.
Additionally, LAB plans on introducing and incubating its own in-house brands, and will open an 80,000 square foot craft distillery in the West Loop of Chicago later this year, which will also serve as a “brand experience center.”
The full roster of LAB’s executive team has yet to be revealed, but joining Bushala will be Tom Flocco, former CEO of Beam Global Spirits & Wine as well as Mark Montgomery, who worked collaborated with country singer Kenny Chesney for the launch of Blue Chair Bay rum.
“[LAB] brings a wealth of expertise across all disciplines vital to the success of a young brand, including strategy, finance, marketing, sales, distribution and procurement. We have assembled an all-star team of industry veterans to invest behind brands with great promise and help them achieve their full potential,” he said.
Based on current discussions, Bushala said he expects to announce the fund’s first deals within the coming months.