Maghreb regional fund closes ahead of target

Tuninvest, the Tunis-based private equity firm, has closed its second fund focused on the Maghreb region on €125m.

Family businesses in the Maghreb countries of Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria are the primary target for Tuninvest’s Maghreb Private Equity Fund II. Opportunities in Libya will also be considered. The fund surpassed its initial target of between €80 million and €100 million to close on €125 million.

Tuninvest general manager Ziad Oueslati said the fundraising had taken “some time” between its first closing in June 2006 and the final close due to the resolution of “legal constraints” affecting some investors. As well as existing supporters such as the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the European Investment Bank, the fund also drew support from new LPs including the African Development Bank and CDC Group, the UK Government-linked fund of funds.

Tuninvest, which is known as Marocinvest in Morocco and Maghrebinvest in Algeria, is using the fund to target small and medium sized enterprises worth between €10 million and €50 million in a wide range of sectors including manufacturing/agribusiness and packaging. Oueslati says the fund is already around 50 percent invested.

Founded in 1994, Tuninvest was focused on the Tunisian market until 2000 when it was encouraged by the IFC to broaden its geographic remit. In the same year, it closed its Maghreb I fund on $24 million. In 2005 it broadened its reach further when closing the Africinvest fund, focused on Sub-Saharan Africa, on €34 million.

Talking of the attractions of the Maghreb, Oueslati said: “The region has seen steady economic growth over the last five to seven years. In addition, there is a greater likelihood of securing exits. Big industrial players have come into the region from Europe and also now from the Gulf. Also, the bourses in Casablanca and Tunis have been performing well.”