Best African Private Equity Transaction 2015 (DUET / SAPLED)
Based in London, Duet Group is a global alternative asset manager which manages in excess of US$5.5 billion of equity across various strategies and geographies. Maty Ndiaye and Alexandre Khawam talk us through the firm and its standout deal to acquire SAPLED. In recent years Duet Group has developed a key focus on Frontier and Emerging Markets, positioning itself as a specialist investment management firm with a proven edge and track record in these markets. Company: Duet Group Name: Alexandre Khawam Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.duetgroup.net Address: 27 Hill Street London, W1J 5LP United Kingdom Phone: +44 (20) 7290 9800
Duet Private Equity (DPEL), the Private Equity arm of the group, has been focusing on investing in unique opportunities in Africa since 2011. Following significant investments in Ethiopia and Ghana, the team was ready to explore and tap into opportunities in Francophone Africa, a region still largely untapped by any of their competitors. As such, the Africa Private Equity team and its close network of partners acquired SAPLED last year, with the transaction marking the team’s entry into a new country, Ivory Coast, one of Africa’s fastest growing and most promising economies. Founded 25 years ago, SAPLED is one of Côte d’Ivoire’s largest dairy and juice processing manufacturers in the country, now ready for full expansion in Benin, Burkina Faso, Togo and Guinea. Its portfolio of brands and products enjoy an extremely high recognition across the region, and and as such was the obvious choice for the firm’s first acquisition in this dynamic and growing region. Needless to say, this new acquisition has provided the team with a number of challenges to overcome. Alexandre Khawam: “Because we are conservative in our investment philosophy, investing in a new country is always a challenge. You need time to absorb the environment and understand the risks. You will always find unexpected hurdles to overcome and you need to be very cautious about every decision you make. But overall and with the comfort of being associated to a cutting edge management team, 2015 was a strong year for Cote d’Ivoire and we are proud to have contributed to that growth with this investment in SAPLED.” Maty Ndiaye: “SAPLED was an exciting opportunity to work on but with its challenges and despite those we managed to close the transaction and are now in control of one of the leading consumer companies in the country. Thanks to a trusted management team and a lot of time and resources invested in the country prior to the transaction, we managed to develop key relationships that allow us to steer the business in the right direction and counter any volatility associated of doing business in a new country.” The team has clearly been able to generate alpha while mitigating the risks as much as possible. The investment is anticipated to provide the returns investors are hoping for when investing in Africa.