Gulf Capital, one of the leading investment firms in the Middle East has announced plans to expand its private debt business to sub-Saharan Africa through a partnership with Serengeti Capital, an Africa-focused investment bank, with offices in Accra and London.
In a statement made available to THISDAY, it stated that Gulf Capital’s Private Debt arm, Gulf Credit Partners, also recently announced the first closing of its second flagship fund, Gulf Credit Opportunities Fund II, at $175 million. The company’s first fund, which closed at around US$221 million in 2013, is now fully invested.
Through this exclusive partnership, Serengeti Capital will be advising on credit and mezzanine investment opportunities in Sub-Saharan Africa for Gulf Capital’s second generation private debt investment fund, which will also look at investing in defensive noncyclical sectors in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.
The Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital Dr. Karim El Solh said: “Sub-Saharan Africa has great economic and demographic fundamentals, coupled with a growing demand for private debt financing. It is today undergoing a rapid transformation towards urbanisation, supported by one of the fastest real GDP growths in the world, exceeding five per cent annually for the next three years.”
It described Serengeti Capital as a dynamic partner that is deeply rooted in the African landscape and enjoys profound understanding of the African business and regulatory environments.
El Solh added: “Our partnership with Serengeti Capital and our expansion from the Middle East and North Africa into Sub-Saharan Africa is part of our strategy to become one of the leading alternative investment managers in emerging markets. A large number of our portfolio companies operate today along the new East-West corridor from Asia Pacific and South East Asia to the Middle East and Africa. We look forward to our partnership with Serengeti Capital and to increasing our investments across Africa.”
With 40 per cent of the population under 16, Sub-Saharan Africa has positive demographics, and has the highest urbanisation rates in the world, with over 50 per cent Africans projected to live in cities by 2030. Countries in the Sub-Sahara today command large urban centers, with 52 cities having populations of 1 million or more, comparable to Western Europe.
Also, the Managing Director and Head of Gulf Credit Partners Mr. Walid Cherif, said: “Appointing Serengeti Capital as our exclusive adviser and partner for Sub-Saharan Africa is in line with our strategy to expand our Private Debt platform to other emerging markets in addition to the current geographies we cover in MENA and Turkey. It is a trusted partner that enjoys extensive industry relationships and is uniquely positioned to add significant depth to our business on the Continent.”
“SMEs and mid-market companies in Africa lack access to financing as banks tend to focus on asset-backed financing and blue chip companies. Together with Serengeti Capital, we can offer the most promising asset-light, mid-market growth companies flexible and bespoke financing solutions that will add substantial value to their businesses and help them capitalise on sector opportunities that Africa presents them with. Starting with countries in the West Africa region, we will then expand across the rest of the continent.”
Commenting further on the partnership, the Managing Partner and co-founder of Serengeti Capital, Mr. Francis Kalitsi said: “We are delighted to form this strategic partnership with Gulf Capital, which will utilise our deep trenched global and African experience and our successful advisory and investment track record on the Continent. This agreement is testament to the expertise of our team and its ability to consistently perform to best-in-class international standards across the complex African markets. Serengeti Capital is very well placed to advise and assist Gulf Capital’s Private Debt team to expand in Africa and to meet the growing demands of clients and investors here.”