Ascent Capital reaches $50m first close on East Africa fund

The Kenya-based private equity firm will target investments in East Africa

Kenya-based Ascent Capital held a first close on $50 million for its debut fund – Ascent Rift Valley Fund (ARVF), which will target investments in East Africa. The fund has been in market since 2012 and is targeting $70 million.

Ascent will invest in 8 to 12 companies across the region. The investment size will be between $1-9 million per company.

The total Kenyan institutional capital contribution to the Ascent Rift Valley Fund currently stands at $5 million, which is 10% of total commitments. Commercial investors including local institutions and private international investors have committed 70% of the funds.

The pension fund of Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC), is a known investor in the fund with a $4 million commitment, according to investment data from Africa Assets.

Ascent is a relatively new local player in African private equity. The firm hired former Centum Investment Company executive David Owino as partner in March. Owino previously served as director of private equity at the publicly traded Centum, before quitting in October of last year.

Guy Brennan an Australian investment banker, and Lucas Kranck a former Nokia executive, serve as the other two partners on the investment team.

“This is the first time in the region that local pension funds have committed to invest in a private equity fund. We are honored to be the first private equity fund to have won the trust of the local pension funds. In addition to the local institutional investors, the fund has also attracted significant capital from international investors. Coming on the back of the successful eurobond milestone, this is another sign that the country’s financial sector has come of age.” Owino said in a statement.

Ascent has offices in Kenya, Ethopia, and Uganda.