Actis launches $100m Africa credit platform

The deal marks Actis’ second this week following an investment in mobile monetisation company Upstream.

Actis has acquired Compuscan, Africa's largest independent credit bureau, as the first stage of a $100 million buy-and-build play in the credit services space.

The emerging markets specialist said in a statement that the new platform, Credit Service Holdings, would be chaired by Michael Jordaan, the former CEO of South Africa's First National Bank.

Financial terms of the Compuscan deal were not disclosed, but Actis has committed to investing $100 million in its new platform.

The Compuscan management, led by CEO and founder Remo Lenisa, have invested alongside Actis in CSH. They will continue to manage the Compuscan business, which is based in Stellenbosch and provides credit data and analytics to over 3,500 clients across the financial services industry.

Jonathan Matthews, a director in Actis’s Johannesburg office, said in the statement that only 5 percent of adults in Africa are covered by credit bureaus, compared with 64 percent in OECD countries.

“We are excited to be investing in Compuscan and making the first steps towards bridging that gap,” he added.

Actis is hoping to enjoy the same sort of success it has had with Emerging Markets Payments Holdings, a buy-and-build payment processing services platform it established in Africa in 2010. EMPH now operates in 40 countries across the region.

This is the second deal announced by Actis this week. On Tuesday, it said that it had made a “significant investment” in Upstream, a mobile monetisation business with a focus on emerging market consumers. In a statement, Actis said Upstream had access to more than 1 billion consumers, and had already generated an additional $1 billion of revenues for its clients. Upstream CEO and founder Marco Veremis will continue to run the business.

Actis is currently investing from its Global 4 fund, which it closed at the end of September. It raised a total of $1.7 billion, including a $160 million Africa side pool that will effectively co-invest alongside the main fund on African deals. The firm, which only invests in emerging markets, now has $7 billion under management.