Actis eyes double fund launch by year-end – exclusive

The growth markets manager is set to launch a financial services fund and its fifth Africa-focused vehicle.

Growth markets manager Actis is looking to raise two vehicles by the end of the year, Private Equity International has learned.

It is understood the firm is in the early planning stages for a debut pan-emerging markets financial services product as well as its fifth Africa focused fund.

The target amount has not yet been decided for its financial services fund, while the Africa fund will have a larger target than its 2013-vintage predecessor, which raised $212.5 million, a source familiar with the matter told PEI.

A spokeswoman for Actis declined to comment on fundraising.

Speaking to PEI about a senior hire in Asia, Neil Brown, head of investor development at Actis, said: “In our view what’s happening to the private industry in growth markets is exactly the same that’s happening in developed markets – that to compete over time you have to be focused and you need to have deep sector and operational specialisation.”

Among companies in Actis’s financial services portfolio are Malaysian payment services company GHL Systems, South Africa’s Paycorp and India’s largest digital retail payments platform Pine Labs.

Brown noted that Actis in the past invested in oil and gas, industrials and business processes but in recent years it has narrowed its focus sectors to just consumer, financial services and healthcare. Within these three Actis is zooming in on education and food and beverage, payments and financial services infrastructure, as well as medtech, specialist pharma and diagnostics.

According to Brown, the more specialised and sector-driven Actis became, the more its dealflow increased. The firm has a “very large deal pipeline in the financial services sector, with about 20 transactions to date”.

The firm is also expanding its offerings with longer tenure products. Brown said these are attracting interest from Japanese and Korean LPs.

To tap the growing institutional market in Asia, Actis recently hired Ellen Li as managing director, head of Asia of the investor development group. Li served nine years as the head of institutional sales for Janus Henderson Investors in Asia. Prior to this, she worked for Franklin Templeton Investment in Asia as director of institutional sales.

In May the firm hired Virginia Doble, former investor relations director at Sovereign Capital, as head of EMEA in its investor development group.

Brown and Li told PEI the firm is looking to increase the amount of capital sourced from Asia from the current 20 percent to a cap-weighted 30 percent. Brown noted he expects this to happen over the next five to seven years.

Li said: “As we expand our product offerings, we are at the right time and good moment to start to explore new investor channels and diversify our clientele. Along with our institutional investor base, we expect to attract interest from high net worth individuals and corporates in various regions globally.”

Investors in Actis’s previous funds include Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company, Allstate Investments, CDC Group, Pantheon and Australian Super, according to PEI data.