W. Africa No. 2 For Mergers and Acquisitions, Part 2 of 3

By Frank Mutulu AFKI Original Published: January 15, 2014, 7:30 am
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This article is part two of a three-part series featuring the top four African countries for mergers and acquisitions.

When it comes to mergers and acquisitions taking place in Africa, two West African countries are in the top four — Nigeria and Ghana rank No. 2 and No. 3 respectively.

“This is hardly surprising given the vast mineral deposits found in the two countries – wealth which has a way of replicating itself and benefiting a multitude of other sectors,” Nicholas Kitonyi, a financial writer with Seeking Alpha told AFK Insider.

The attractiveness of these two countries for mergers and acquisitions was the subject of a study by Mergermarket – a U.K.-based media and research company – which placed them between top-ranked South Africa and before fourth-placed Kenya.

Nigeria, which has the continent’s largest oil reserves, predictably attracts investor attention in this sector more than others.

It is also home to Africa’s richest man, Aliko Dangote, whose business empire – estimated to be about $22 billion – also includes substantial investments in the oil industry, with plans for more this year.

While the Nigerian government recently released a lower budget based on an expected drop in oil production, the country still managed to attract more than 30 mergers and acquisitions in 2013, the bulk of them in the oil and gas sectors.

Nigeria’s location and profile has investors from within and outside Africa picturing it as a good launch pad to penetrate West Africa, according to Mergermarket.

“Nigeria, with its large and fast-growing population, is often seen as the gateway into West Africa and provides extensive growth opportunities for investors,” said Vinjeru Mkandawire, who is based at Mergermarket’s London office, in an AFK Insider interview.

Another survey by Global Legal Insights said this about mergers in Nigeria: “M&A activity has grown remarkably in Nigeria since the first merger in the early 1980s.

“It is, however, noted that the number of merger notifications being assessed annually remains small in comparison with some African jurisdictions like South Africa.”

Nigeria, which is plagued with corruption and currently battling militia groups, registered deals in 2013 that included CAMAC Energy – a U.S. oil company – buying an undisclosed stake in oil mining leases 120 and 121 in offshore Nigeria.

In June, a $1.5 billion deal saw Banco BTG Pactual S.A. (a Brazilian bank); Indorama Synthetics (an Indonesia based polyester maker) and Helios (an Africa-focused private equity firm) acquire 50 percent of Petrobras Oil & Gas, according to Mergermarket.

Petrobras is a Brazil-based energy company with operations in Nigeria. In November, Nampak Limited (a South African manufacturing company) agreed to buy Alucan Packaging Limited, a can beverage manufacturing company, for $301 million.

A Tanzanian managing director interviewed for the survey was optimistic about Nigeria’s and Ghana’s future in mergers and acquisitions.

“South Africa is dominant in the market and it will continue to be so because there are numerous cash-rich corporates based there. But Nigeria and Ghana are growing gradually and are showing strong economic growth. These markets will flourish soon,” the unnamed director said in the survey.

Some of the deals recorded last year in Ghana included First Bank of Nigeria Plc buying International Commercial Bank — a Gambia-based commercial bank with operations in Ghana.

Another deal in November saw Fortiz Private Equity buy a 90-percent stake from Social Security and National Insurance Trust and SIC Life in Merchant Bank Ghana in efforts to resuscitate the ailing bank.

This deal occurred after months of speculation that the stake would be bought by First Rand Bank of South Africa.

“Fortiz Private Equity Fund Ltd. will inject adequate capital to address the solvency and liquidity challenges facing the bank and implement a turnaround strategy to ensure that the bank continues to operate normally,” Ghana’s central bank said in a statement announcing the deal. “The strategy includes listing the bank on the Ghana Stock Exchange within three years.”

While Mergermarket ranks Ghana highly on the merger and acquisition scale, Practical Law – a U.K.-based legal publishing company – says the market is still “relatively small.”

“Large transactions do not occur very often. Most recent transactions have occurred in the banking sector and have been driven by strategic reasons,” Practical Law said in a report.

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