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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 20 June 2018

Lebanese investor grows African assets

EuroMena’s latest fund has spent $55m 

Lagos, Nigeria. EuroMena has boosted its assets in the country and other African nations. Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters
Lagos, Nigeria. EuroMena has boosted its assets in the country and other African nations. Akintunde Akinleye/Reuters

EuroMena Funds, a Beirut-based private-equity firm that has raised US$350 million since 2006, plans to almost double assets as it seeks investments in Lebanese-owned companies operating abroad while also backing smaller businesses in its home regions.

After a decade of deploying most of its capital in Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt, EuroMena’s latest fund has spent $55m for stakes in a toilet-paper manufacturer in Nigeria, a Tunisia-based operator of clothing stores, and the Moroccan franchisee of French retailer Carrefour, said Giles de Clerck, the firm’s executive partner. Two more acquisitions are expected to be completed this year, he said.

A debut debt fund primarily targeting Africa, with a target of $200m, is in the works, managing partner Romen Mathieu said. The firm also plans a $100m private-equity fund that will invest a maximum $10m per company in enterprises based in the Levant that generate as much as $50m in annual revenue, he said. Both funds are expected to close in 2018.

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EuroMena is widening its geographical footprint to tap into a Lebanese diaspora that’s at least three times larger than the population living in Lebanon. The firm, which closed its third vehicle at $150m last year, plans to mine this community for deals, and hitch a ride to the faster-growing economies in Africa, while mitigating some of the risk.

“Today, we would never invest with a Congolese family in Congo without having any ties with our base here in Lebanon,” Mr Mathieu said in the firm’s home city. “You do 50 per cent of your due diligence with three phone calls here in Beirut. You call the banker, the doctor and the lawyer, and by doing so you’ve done due diligence on the guy, his family, his grandfather, and the father of his grandfather.”

EuroMena is preparing to sell stakes in three companies from its first fund, all based in Egypt. The firm has held its positions in printing and packaging company Wataniya, software developer ITWORX and food producer Wadi Holdings, through government revolutions and currency devaluations, and now sees an opportunity to “make a decent return in dollars” by exiting the investments this year, Mr Mathieu said.