Apis closes debut fund on $287m

The Africa and south Asia finance sector specialist has deployed almost half the fund, which had an initial target of $250m.

Private equity firm Apis Partners, which targets investment in financial services in Africa and South Asia, has closed its debut fund on $287 million, according to a statement from the firm.

Apis Growth Fund I, which had an initial target of $250 million and a hard-cap of $300 million, held a first close on $157 million in August 2015. By August 2016 the firm had amassed $260 million for the vehicle, as reported by Private Equity International.

The investor base is made up of development finance institutions, global financial institutions and funds of funds investors from Europe, North America, Africa and the Middle East.

Investors in the fund include the African Development Bank, fund of funds 57 Stars, Obviam, South Suez Capital, Prudential, Sarona Asset Management, Intesa Sanpaolo Group, CDC Group, the European Investment Bank, FMO, Swedfund and Old Mutual.

Last August, managing partner Udayan Goyal told PEI many of the financial institutions had committed to the fund in order to gain strategic insight into markets in which they are not currently operating.

“They are able to then look at these markets and look at the flow in these markets,” he said.

“Also in the case of someone like an Old Mutual or somebody who is in these markets, it gives them a privileged position in case they want to acquire the companies that are in the portfolio. We don’t give them any preferential rights, of course, but obviously being an LP and knowing about the company gives them a head start on anybody else.”

In the statement, Vivina Berla, co-managing partner at Sarona, said investing in Apis Growth Fund I “allows us to get exposure to financial services and related disruptive technologies in some of the fastest growing countries in the world”.

“Sarona is deeply committed across its portfolio to Apis’ mandate of fostering inclusion through innovation: we are actively engaged in promoting synergies between companies in the Apis Growth Fund I portfolio with other companies that we are indirectly invested in.”

Grace Kyokunda, chief investment officer at AfDB said Apis Growth Fund I will be “catalytic to deepening financial inclusion in Africa”.

“The existing portfolio and the pipeline of future investments are strong evidence of how companies can drive financial inclusion, improve access to formal financial services and have a meaningful impact in our markets, whilst being sustainable and profitable.”

Apis has already deployed around $130 million across five portfolio companies including pan-African SME lender MicroCred, Electronic Payment and Services Private Limited, an ATM service provider in India, and pan-African online payment platform Direct Pay Online.

The firm is planning to make between eight and 12 investments from the fund, writing average cheques of $25 million, Goyal told PEI in August.