Helios Reportedly Setting Up a New $1.35bn Fund For African Companies and Startups

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Helios Investment Partners, one of Africa’s biggest private equity firms, plans to raise more funds to power more companies on the continent. The firm is looking to set up a $1.25 billion fund as investments in Africa as it looks to diversify beyond oil and commodities.

According to a report by Bloomberg, Helios is in talks with asset managers and development finance organizations to raise the funds. However, the firm is yet to make a comment.

Managed by Tope Lawani and Babatunde Soyeye, Helios is a UK-based private equity company. Founded in 2004, the company now controls over $3.6 billion worth of capital invested into several companies in Africa.

The firm controls significant stakes in companies like Interswitch, Petrobras, Telkom Kenya, Mall For Africa, FCMB, Helios Towers and Vivi Energy.

Helios Reportedly Setting Up a New $1.35bn Fund For African Companies, Startups
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In the last four years, the company has invested more than $200 million in a host of companies including startups in Africa. For instance, in January 2018, Helios was a lead investor in the $55 million funding round in Tanzanian electricity startup, Zola Electric. This was after it invested $10 million in the startup in 2016.

Meanwhile, Helios’ latest attempt to raise new funding comes at a time when much of Africa’s economy is in a mixed situation. On the one hand a few countries have weathered the commodity price declines that plunged some into recessions. And on the other hand, the continent appears much too unripe for serious investments.

Much to the support of the latter, big name equity companies like Abraaj and Blackrock Group have either declined or exited significant markets on the continent.

Yet, Helios is undeterred by these cases and looks set to take on more investments across the continent. This latest round of funding follows the $1.1 billion Helios pulled in four years ago. Originally looking to raise just $1 billion, the PE company’s offering was oversubscribed by $100 million.

That’s the kind of sign that shows more firms still consider Africa in high regards. More so when you consider that many African economies declined in 2015.

Nevertheless, the proposed Helios fund is also coming at a time when quite a few firms have announced relatively large funds targeted solely at the African startup scene.

For instance, Partech more than doubled its Africa fund from $70 million to $143 million earlier this year. While Kenyan VC firm, Novastar Ventures announced a $72.5 million fund last year. But the $168 million Cathay Africa Invest Innovation fund is by far the largest dedicated solely to high growth tech companies.

Helios might also be looking to target African startups that have recorded impressive strides over the last few years  as well. But for now, the company has not made an official statement.


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