Criterion Africa Partners exits Gabonese forestry company

 Criterion Africa Partners exits Gabonese forestry company

Criterion Africa Partners (CAP), a private equity firm that invests in the forestry sector in Sub-Saharan Africa, has exited its six-year-old investment in Compagnie des Bois du Gabon (CBG) via a strategic sale.

The PE firm did not share the deal value but said it sold its 49% stake in CBG to French energy major TotalEnergies.

Criterion Africa had bet on CBF around six years ago via GEF Africa Sustainable Forestry Fund LP. The fund had a corpus of $160 million and is believed to have a sweet spot of investing $10-15 million.

CBG is headquartered in Port Gentil and operates three large forestry concessions in Gabon. The company harvests about 150,000 cubic metres per year of mixed tropical hardwood species such as Okoumé, Azobe, Niove, and Padouk, and processes these logs through their own manufacturing facilities.

The integrated forest products company operates on 596,000 hectares of concessions located between the Loango and Moukalaba Doudou national parks in Gabon.

The timber products from CBG’s peeled veneer production plant and sawmill, are located in Port-Gentil.

“Since investing in CBG in 2016, the CAP team has worked closely with the Fenart family on the implementation of a broad range of value creation initiatives. CAP is proud to exit CBG with significantly higher financial, ESG, and developmental performance today than in 2016,” the PE firm said.

Criterion had raised its second fund two years ago, scooping up $115 million.

In December 2020, it announced an exit from Global Woods AG, which completed the sale of its Uganda timber plantation to Nile Fibreboard, a local strategic buyer.

“In addition to the positive climate and economic development impacts of its investments in Global Woods, the proceeds of the GW (Global Woods) sale have secured an attractive risk-adjusted return for CAP’s investors in the Africa Sustainable Forestry Fund and the Africa Forestry Fund II Limited,” the PE firm had said then, hinting that it reinvested in the company from the second fund as well.

Last year, the PE firm exited its nine-year old investment in Peak Timbers, a 31,500-hectare timber plantation and saw-milling business located in Swaziland which produces poles, mining timber and pulpwood. In February 2021, Peak Timbers was acquired by TWK Agri, a diversified group of companies operating in the agriculture and forestry sectors in southern Africa, for $39 million.

Vivek Sinha

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