What issues keep you awake at night?
“Nothing has changed starkly enough to keep me awake, but I’ve been worried by currency instability in Africa, in particular countries like Nigeria, which has resulted in a slowdown of the speed of capital deployment while investors wait for calmer waters.”
What surprised you most in 2016?
“Nothing, would be my immediate reaction. For an investor like CDC, who have been in the market for decades, we’ve seen the good and the bad. But if I was pushed to highlight something, then the extent of the changing political landscape in South Africa has been eye-raising. There is now a stronger candidate in the Treasury to provide a bulwark to Zuma’s power.”
What’s the biggest challenge in 2017?
“Deploying dry powder and delivering exits. Same old, same old.”
Which are the most promising regions and strategies in 2017 and why?
“The obvious answer is that the growth in non-oil producing countries will continue. But, more importantly, I would say that irrespective of macroeconomic trends in country X or country Y there will always be strong micro-economic stories, which private equity can find. Even among economic gloom in countries like Zimbabwe there are companies that have succeeded. Good private equity investors will use their local knowledge and networks to find those growth stories.”
What’s your one piece of advice for GPs?
“They have to challenge themselves on net returns as much as they put emphasis on delivering gross IRR performance. This is about costs they can control, versus currencies they can’t.”