Last week in brief...Apis Partners, the London-based private equity fund manager that backs financial sector companies, has made its first investment in the solar sector. The company is Greenlight Planet, a solar home systems provider that provides its pay-as-you-go customers both the system and related products as well as credit to pay for them. Apis is leading a round made up of equity and debt provided by a number of other institutions. Apis' contribution is coming from Apis Growth Fund I, the private equity firm's oversubscribed first fund which closed with $287 million in commitments earlier this year. Greenlight will use the round to support its growth plans for Africa, particularly in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Nigeria as well as strengthen its capital structure and invest more in its technology-enabled product.
LeapFrog Investments is partnering with American venture firms Accel and TCV to back WorldRemit, a digital money transfer service. This latest round of funding brings the total raised by WorldRemit to $220 million since 2014. The capital will be used to fuel the company's ambitions to serve up to 10 million customers connected to emerging markets. WorldRemit is already a global leader in international transfers to mobile money accounts - an emerging market technology where a customer's phone numbers acts like a bank account to hold funds.
Other deals news items in the week related to the healthcare sector. In the first, Dynasty Group, a joint venture between Man Capital, the investment arm of the Mansour Group, and Integrated Diagnostics Holdings (IDH) is teaming up with the IFC, to back Eagle Eye Echo-Scan, a Nigerian medical diagnostics business. Between them Dynasty and the IFC will invest $25 million in Echo-Scan in a deal which sees Dynasty gain a majority stake and assume management control of the firm.
On the other side of the continent, the IFC is considering investing preferred equity into Pyramid Pharma, a privately-held distributor of pharmaceuticals, medical consumables and equipment based in Tanzania. The investment represents 50% of the amount of capital Pyramid is seeking as it works on its plan to expand into new markets in sub-Saharan Africa. The balance of the capital that's required would need to be provided by an, as yet unnamed, co-investor.
There was only one price of fundraising news for the week. The IFC Asset Management Company's Catalyst Fund is mulling a potential commitment to Berkeley Energy's African Renewable Energy Fund. The fund, which held a $200 million close in September 2015, is headquartered in Nairobi and focuses on small hydro, wind, solar, geothermal, stranded gas and biomass projects across sub-Saharan Africa. Evaluation and approval for the commitment to the 10-year, 2014 vintage fund is expected to take place in the last week of January.
On the other hand, there were several portfolio-company related deals. The biggest took place in West Africa, where Helios Investment-backed Vivo Energy has struck a share swap deal with Engen which will add over 300 new locations to Vivo's extensive retail service service station network.
Next up is Travelstart, an online travel business headquartered in Cape Town which has acquired a majority stake in SafariNow, South Africa's largest accommodation booking website in an undisclosed deal. In 2016, Travelstart received $40 million in a round led by Amadeus Capital Partners which ranked as one of the largest venture deals on the continent in several years.
And finally, One Thousand & One Voices' (1K1V) first portfolio acquisition RedSun Dried Fruit and Nuts is making an investment in RTE Snacks, producer of South Africa's popular "On The Go" trail mix. 1K1V first backed RedSun in February 2015, investing R70 million in the business which processes and exports high quality raisins produced along the shores of the Orange River.
As always, you can review these and other stories by clicking through to this week’s preview issue of Africa Capital Digest.
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.