Demographics Attract Private Equity Investors To Consumer Companies In Africa

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Written by Kevin Mwanza

Private equity investors in Africa are attracted to consumer-focused companies as they eye the continents favorable demographics and a growing middle class, a new report by a Cape-Town based research firm has shown.

In 2015, PE firms shrug financial turmoil in many African countries, due to a commodity prices rout on the international markets, to raise a record $4.3 billion from the $2.6 billion accumulated in 2014.

According to RisCura Solutions, most of this money was invested in companies serving consumers or with a strong retail focus.

“Industries serving consumer staples and discretionary spending fetch the highest prices because of favorable demographics in the growing middle class,” Rory Ord, head valuations at RisCura, told Bloomberg.

The number of middle-class households in 11 sub-Saharan African countries tripled to 15 million between 2000 and 2014 and is expected to jump to 40 million by 2030, according to a 2014 study by Standard Bank Group Ltd.

South Africa, the continent’s second largest economy with the largest middle class, accounted for 40 percent of the private equity deals in 2015.

By the end of August, $3.78 billion had already been gathered from seven funds, almost a third more than the $2.57 billion accumulated during the whole of 2014 (see chart), Private Equity International said in September.

Among those to close in 2015 was the Abraaj Group’s North Africa Fund II, which raised $375 million by August, $125 million above its target – its Africa Fund III had previously reached a final close at $990 million in March, having targeted $800 million.

These were both topped by Helios Investors III, which reached a hard-cap of $1.1 billion, having targeted $900 million.

2015 set another record in the number of private equity exits in Africa, with 40 announced by funds affiliated to African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (AVCA).

According to AVCA’s recent study, about 249 private equity exits took place in Africa between 2007 and 2014.

While 2016 is not expected to be better than last year, five Africa-focused private equity funds have already closed this year, raising a total of $575 million, including the $295 million Investec Asset Management Africa Frontier Private Equity Fund 2, according to Preqin Ltd.

Ord told Bloomberg private equity fundraising is expected to drop to about $2 billion this year because of economic headwinds, the potential downgrade of South African debt in June, and because the largest firms closed their funds last year.