Helios hits hard-cap with biggest African vehicle

Private equity group Helios, co-led by Tope Lawani (pictured), has closed its latest fund on $900m after two years in the market. It is understood to be the biggest fund raised for Africa.

Helios Investment Partners, an Africa-focused firm co-founded in 2004 by partners Tope Lawani and Babatunde Soyoye, has held a final close for its second fund. Helios Investors II garnered $900 million in commitments, meeting its hard-cap and exceeding its target of $800 million, the firm said in a statement.

The firm held an initial close in late 2009 having launched the fund earlier that year. It has since made four investments: Nigerian payment processing company Interswitch, telecommunications company Helios Towers Africa, outdoor advertising business Continental Outdoor Media and oil company Shell’s downstream fuels business in Africa.

Helios said the fund had been substantially oversubscribed despite the difficult fundraising market, with demand exceeding $1 billion.

UK government-owned fund of funds CDC Group was understood to have committed $75 million, with the IFC, the fund investment arm of the World Bank, committing $60 million.

“Continued political and market liberalisation and strong economic growth have prompted global investors to evaluate investment opportunities in Africa more closely. The Fund’s potential to make attractive risk-adjusted returns with comparatively low correlation to developed markets enabled it to attract a diverse investor base,” it said in a statement.

Investors in the fund included a large number of previous Helios LPs as well as investors targeting the African private equity market for the first time, according to the statement.

Lazard acted as placement agent for the fundraising.

Helios I, the group’s previous vehicle, raised $305 million. Helios raised dedicated co-investment funds for three of the five platform investments made using Helios I capital, according to a spokesperson, swelling the amount invested to $630 million.

Private Equity International is holding its third annual Africa Forum this week.