Short-term volatility and uncertainty in the African growth story create opportunities for hedge funds. Hedge funds generally operate flexibly than private equity, and they have the creativity to generate bond-like returns that outpace inflation. Critics say hedge funds have limited liquidity in an opaque world. The riskiest play — but with big returns — is in agriculture and land. Where land is for sale in Africa, investors are making a play for a limited resource, especially when it’s arable, ripe for production or ideal for commercial and residential construction.
Markets: Latest News
Staff, 5:34 pm
South African food giant Pioneer said the deal would have created Africa’s largest consumer goods company. The deal was 95 percent finalized when the country’s foreign-currency debt was downgraded to junk by S&P and Fitch. The downgrade followed Zuma’s cabinet reshuffle and removal of Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. It’s not clear what impact the downgrade will have on M&A in South Africa. With economic conditions expected to worsen, companies could struggle and could go through a period of distressed sales.
Dana Sanchez, 4:53 pm
An IPO today on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange introduced a new option for investors who want to add African exposure to their portfolios. The AMI Big 50 ex-SA ETF offers 50 African blue-chip companies outside South Africa. The IPO is a world first – an ETF offering exposure to a pan-African index that excludes South Africa. “A lot of people do worry about the liquidity risk, but being an ETF means that there is a secondary market on the JSE which allows investors in smaller quantities to trade exposure in and out of Africa,” a stakeholder said. The ETF is managed by Cloud Atlas, which plans to launch two more Africa-focused ETFs by July.
Staff, 8:36 pm
Pension funds are good news for infrastructure projects in Africa. Development banks and private equity funds are targeting pension funds in Africa as sources of investment capital. Four African countries hold 90 percent of Africa’s pension fund assets. Despite challenges, African pension funds are likely to make a substantial impact on infrastructure investment in the next few years. One promising trend is the rise of regional funds targeting pensions. They’re making a new source of African capital available to address the region’s infrastructure deficit.
Staff, 1:00 am
By moving manufacturing to Ethiopia, Chinese textile companies are moving closer to their raw material base, the cotton-producing countries. This is part of their value chain repositioning, a strategy most Chinese companies are adopting. They’re are also using Africa as a gateway to emerging markets on and off the continent. Products made in Ethiopia can be exported duty- and quota free to the U.S. under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). The same benefits apply to the E.U. Ethiopia also offers cheap electricity at US$0.04 cents per kilowatt hour. It’s now the second-largest electricity producer in sub-Sahara due to its hydropower dams.
Staff, 12:01 am
The fall in African private equity investment in 2016 could be a short-term blip. Among the losers was US-based Carlyle, one of the world’s winningest investment firms. Carlyle invested $147m in Nigeria’s Diamond Bank in 2014. The bank’s market cap fell by 90% over the subsequent two years. Bob Geldof’s PE firm 8 Miles just invested in Blue Skies, a British fruit firm that operates in Africa. Utilities including telecoms were the most popular target for private equity investment in 2016. West Africa was the most active region.
Reuters, 1:00 am
Africa’s informal alcohol market is about four times bigger than its $11 billion commercial market, analysts say. Home brews have a strong tradition rooted in centuries-old African rituals. AB InBev needs to develop products affordable enough to tap the informal beer and alcohol markets, says InBev’s new Africa head. AB Inbev’s big rivals in Africa – Heineken and Diageo – have also launched lower-priced drinks made with local ingredients that are affordable for more people.
Staff, 11:08 am
Data from the big 12 retailers in South Africa show that they are putting their money into store refurbishments and IT instead of African expansion. Compare this to five years ago. The picture was very different. There was talk of aggressive store rollouts. Some South African companies have expanded into Europe and the U.K. to diversify earnings, but when the rand strengthened, those companies lost out. The customer focus is grounded in technology for the Big 12. IT is playing a critical role in investing in customers — building online capability, enhancing efficiency across supply chains and distribution, and reward programs to enhance client insights.
Kurt Davis Jr., 9:54 am AFKI Original
As commodity prices have fallen, African manufacturing has increased leverage — and the attention of investors — to garner more foreign investment. Tanzania is probably one of the easier bets if you are following the crowd. Success stories include Kenya-based Catalyst Principal Partners, an East Africa-focused private equity firm which invested in Zenufa Laboratories, a leading Tanzanian pharmaceuticals manufacturer. Catalyst also invested in Chemi Cotex, which makes toothpaste, skin and hair products. Both involve non-food and beverage consumer goods that are manufactured locally. Both have taken market share due to quality products and competitive pricing.
Reuters, 9:48 am
The pool of potential buyers is shrinking that Barclays’ can sell shares to in its African business. Some institutional investors, including pension funds, do not allow them to hold an asset that’s sliding on credit ratings. Barclays is struggling to find one strategic buyer that will satisfy South African regulators and is looking to sell its remaining 50% stake in chunks. More than 80% of its revenue is in South Africa. “Banks are paying the price for political uncertainty that we’ve seen in the country over the past two weeks,” a fund manager said.
Peter Pedroncelli, 1:19 pm AFKI Original
Following the turmoil of the last few weeks in South African politics, and an unpopular cabinet reshuffle imposed by president Jacob Zuma, the country has a new finance minister, with Malusi Gigaba now in charge of treasury. Popular previous minister Pravin Gordhan was axed from the role, and Gigaba is expected to fill the void left by the hard-working MP who Zuma saw as a threat. We take a look at 12 things you might not know about South Africa’s new finance minister, Malusi Gigaba.
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