Exclusive: Amethis hits $250m for debut fund

The pan-African firm, which invests in both equity and debt, aims to have $500m of firepower by June.

Amethis Finance, an Africa-focused firm, has held a $250 million interim close on its maiden fund this week, PEI has learnt.

The firm, which has a pan-African strategy and targets investments in both equity and debt, came to market in October 2012 and is targeting $500 million, Amethis’ managing partner Luc Rigouzzo told Private Equity International.

“We held a first close at the end of 2012 on $180 million,” he said. “We also had a credit line of $150 million from OPIC, [the US government’s development finance institution] so [the] total investment capacity was $330 million. We have just held an intermediary close on $250 million. Together with the $150 million [from] OPIC, we have a $400 million investment capacity.”

The final close is scheduled for June, when the firm aims to have raised $350 million. “Together with the $150 million credit line [this] will bring the fund up to $500 million,” he said.

Global Private Equity, a Paris-based placement agent, is helping Amethis to raise the fund. The firm is currently negotiating with an African development bank for another credit line. On the equity side, its investors include private banks, including Rothschild and others from France and Morocco.

“We have a number of family offices from both Europe and the US,” Rigouzzo added. “For our last close, we have fund of funds and insurance companies from Europe and the US. We have also attracted a few African institutions, including the West African development bank.”

Amethis was set up in 2012 by Rigouzzo and Laurent Demey. They were previously chief executive officer and deputy chief executive officer at French investment bank Proparco.

The firm targets mid-sized companies in West, Central and East Africa. Amethis typically invests $10 million per transaction and usually takes minority stakes between 15 and 30 percent. It targets businesses with an enterprise value between $40 million and $60 million.

In Africa, big ticket sizes are rare, according to Rigouzzo. “Most companies are family-owned and most businesses are not ready to sell the majority of their companies; therefore we target minority stakes, but we make sure we have very strong minority rights,” he said.

Amethis targets businesses that are driven by the growing middle class. “We invest in all the sectors that are following the booming consumer [population] including financial services, agribusiness and energy, distribution, health care and pharmaceutical, education [etc.]” he added.

The firm has invested 25 percent of the capital it has raised so far. Last year, it backed Chase Bank in Kenya. It also invested in a logistics company in Mauritius, made a debt investment in UT Bank Ghana, and backed an Ivorian oil and gas company.

Amethis is domiciled in Luxembourg but the advisory team is based in Paris. It will be opening an office in Abidjan in Ivory Coast this quarter, and another in Nairobi during the second half of the year, Rigouzzo said.