Actis’ oil, gas and mining heads depart

Meb Somani and Peter Ruxton have left the emerging markets firm as it realigns its strategy to focus less on oil, gas and mining and more on consumer, financial services and industrials.

Meb Somani, the head of Actis’ oil and gas team, and Peter Ruxton, the partner responsible for mining, have left the firm as it refocuses its investment strategy.

“It is not that Actis have decided that [it is] not going to invest in these sectors [oil, gas and mining] any more. They are realigning their strategy towards more consumer related business, financial services and industrials, which is something they have been planning for a while,” a source close to the situation said.

Somani joined Actis in January 2007, having previously spent 20 years at Shell and Texaco in various commercial and operational roles in Europe, Middle East, Central and South East Asia. Since leaving Actis he has joined Barclays Bank’s natural resources sector.

Ruxton joined Actis in 2000, prior to which he worked for Ross Mining, principally on the Gold Ridge feasibility and mine development in the Solomon Islands and earlier with Billiton Australia where he was one of the team that discovered the 10 million ounce Sunrise Dam Gold Mine. His future professional plans have not been disclosed.

Although Actis will no longer have partners focused solely on oil, gas and mineral deals, the firm will still look at opportunities in the those segments on a case by case basis from within its other teams.

The firm, which closed its third fund on $2.9 billion in December 2008, has made a run of investments into the consumer sphere in the last 12 months. It paid $700 million for South Africa-based power equipment maker Alstom; made a $50 million investment into a Chinese hot pot chain; and invested $65 million in Chinese hotel chain 7 Days Inn Group.

Actis currently has three investments within the oil and gas sector: Candax Energy, an oil and gas exploration company focusing on North Africa; Asia Pacific Exploration Consolidated, an oil and gas exploration company in South East Asia; and LMKR, a provider of information management to petroleum engineering services companies in South Asia, in 2007.

It also has four current investments within mining: Platmin, an early-stage platinum group materials exploration company listed on the Toronto and AIM exchanges; Orezone Resources, a Canadian gold mining company focused Burkina Faso; Mineral Deposits, an Australian Stock Exchange listed mining company developing a zircon mineral sands project and a gold mine in Senegal; and Banro, a gold mining company focused on a major gold belt in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.