Vectis Capital launches African fund

The Greek private equity firm is aiming for a Spring 2006 final close on its new €70 million fund aimed at West Africa.

Athens-based private equity firm Vectis Capital is in the process of launching a €70 million ($82 million) private equity fund focused on the Western African region, with a particular emphasis on Nigeria.
Thomas Scaperdas, investment director at Vectis Capital, told PEO that the Vectis West African Advancement Fund is expected to hold a first close by March. He added that a final closing is anticipated within the second quarter of 2006.
The fund will acquire minority stakes in companies principally based in West Africa,  – predominantly in Nigeria – and will typically make investments between €3 million and €8 million.

Scaperdas said the fund will be managed from Athens, but opportunities and relationships will be sourced from the recently opened office in Lagos, Nigeria. The office is managed by investment director Ugo Ikemba, who was previously senior vice president at Ocean and Oil Holdings in Lagos and has spent over 10 years in corporate finance roles in the US.
Existing investors in Vectis’s previous fund, the €26.5 million ALC Novelle Investments vehicle – namely, the Leventis Group, the Martinos Group and Alpha Bank – are expected to invest in the new fund. Scaperdas said that the firm would also be talking to potential investors in the West Africa region, as well as in Greece, Europe and the US.

Scaperdas said that Ikemba’s experience in West Africa as well as the Leventis Group’s presence in the region since the 1920’s will help in building a network of local contacts. The Leventis Group is a Nigeria-based conglomerate, which includes the Nigerian Bottling Company, the second largest Coca Cola bottler in the world, according to Scaperdas.

West Africa has a lot of potential for growth, added Scaperdas: “We want to introduce West Africa to US and European organisations that are interested in investing in the region but have not yet done so due to a lack of funding or information to understand the potential of the market. It’s an underdeveloped and emerging market where the infrastructure is still needed. It’s the perfect time to invest in this region as we foresee general economic growth for the next five years, especially in infrastructure and industrial companies.”

Figures released by PricewaterhouseCoopers and emerging markets specialist CDC at the African Venture Capital Association’s fifth annual summit in Kenya at the beginning of November positioned Nigeria as the second most active country for venture capital in Africa in 2004.