Deals by Helios Investment Partners and their portfolio companies featured largely in Africa's private capital ecosystem last week. We led with the news that the Africa-focused private equity firm is buying the remaining 25% of Nigerian gas distributor Axxela that it does not already own from Oando plc. Helios had first backed Axxela in 2016, spending $115.8 million for a 75% stake. To but the remaining 25% is going to cost $41.5 million later this quarter, once regulatory and other closing requirements have been met.
In the second Helios-related deal of the week, one of its portfolio companies, Crown Agents Bank, is buying the enterprise business and payment gateway product of Segovia, an American venture-backed technology company. The two firms have been working together since 2017. The deal will extend Crown Agents Bank's payment network, add mobile money capabilities to its services, and integrate Segovia’s payments infrastructure with its extensive foreign exchange capabilities. Helios originally acquired Crown Agents Bank in 2016.
The IFC is investing debt in one of Gulf Capital's portfolio holdings. The development finance institution is providing Middle East Glass Manufacturing (MEG) with $100 million of debt financing helping the Egyptian company expand its production of glass containers and take advantage of the expansion opportunities offered by international markets and grow its export revenues. Gulf Capital first backed MEG in 2014.
Boomplay, a consumer entertainment app which launched in Nigeria in 2015, has raised a significant amount of capital in a Series A round led by a couple of China-based investors. The music and video streaming and download service has raised $20 million from a group of investors led by Maison Capital with help from newly-formed Seas Capital and some strategic investors. The fresh capital will be used to hire additional employees as well as focus on the business's content acquisition and product optimization plans.
Partech Africa fund has led a group of investors backing a Series A round for Kudi, a digital payment and collections startup in Nigeria which was launched in 2017. The round, which provides Kudi with $5 million, also saw participation from the company's existing investors, Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator, as well as Y Combinator's CEO, Michael Seibel. This is the third deal for Partech's Africa fund, which closed with about $143 million in February this year, and will help Kudi push it growth plans further.
We report on two fundraising items this week. Of the two, the smaller is about a commitment from the European Investment Bank to SPE Capital's Africa Industrialization Fund. The DFI has agreed to commit $15 million to the planned $200 million fund, which will target equity and/or quasi-equity deals in small and lower mid-cap companies in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, and Tunisia.
The second fundraising-related item involves a launch. The BLOC fund, described as a "first-of-its-kind blended finance technology impact fund", is being sponsored by Bamboo Capital Partners, the Government of Togo and Moeda Seeds Bank.The goal is to raise €100 million to invest in companies that are developing or using technologies that help solve social and environmental challenges, particularly those that benefit low- and middle-income populations in emerging markets.
In trends, we took a look back at the first quarter of the year. Of the 70 deals we reported on, we pulled out a selection that are both notable and reflective of the type of private equity deals announced during the first 3 months of the year.
Finally, FinDev Canada announced the appointees to its 11-member board. Among them are two Africa investment and development experts - Mimi Alemayehou, a Managing Director at Black Rhino who has help senior positions at OPIC and the African Development Bank in the past, and Albert Essien, who in a career spanning more than 20 years, has held several key positions at Ecobank Group.
That's it for this week. As always, you can review these and other stories by clicking through to this week's preview edition of the newsletter.
Allan Cunningham is a senior media executive who has spent the last 15 years of his career working for some of the world’s most respected M&A and Private Equity media companies including Dow Jones’s publications Private Equity Analyst and VentureWire and most recently, The Deal. He has built a number of successful digital and event content businesses, both subscription and sponsor-supported, delivering information and content-marketing services to clients in the M&A and broader deal ecosystem. He recently struck out on his own and launched Rowayton Press, a multi-platform media company focused on the private capital opportunities in emerging and frontier markets. Mr. Cunningham holds a Bachelors degree from Liverpool John Moores University in the UK.