Africa PE firm Helios inks first new deal in over a year

 Africa PE firm Helios inks first new deal in over a year

Helios Investment Partners, one of the largest private equity firms in Africa that has inked or initiated a set of exits and partial exits from its existing portfolio firms to give an impetus to its fundraising process for its latest and largest investment vehicle, has struck a new investment.

IXAfrica Data Centre, a developer and operator of hyperscale-ready data centres in East Africa, has said that Helios intends to invest $50 million growth capital into the company to accelerate the development of its Nairobi campus.

The investment is expected to close by the end of the year, subject to customary closing conditions including Kenyan regulatory approval.

Led by Guy Willner, Executive Chairman and cofounder, IXAfrica was established in Kenya last year, with a leadership team featuring pedigree from international data centre operators, local connectivity and power and engineering capabilities.

Willner is a data centre business veteran who cofounded IXEurope, which was later acquired by Equinix. The other key execs and shareholders include Andrew Hunt (Teraco, Marlow Capital), Clement Martineau (Orange Telkom Kenya) and Naresh Mehta (Power Technics).

Prompted by soaring demand for Kenyan internet connectivity from a young and fast-growing population, IXAfrica secured a 17,300 square metre plot alongside the Mombasa Road in the nation’s capital, Nairobi. The location provides easy access to all existing primary internet connectivity infrastructure.

Upon full build-out of the Nairobi campus, the company will establish a leading position in Kenya, delivering over 20MW of hyperscale-ready capacity to the market. Kenya is a hypercloud-ready region with advanced cloud adoption propensities, a digitally savvy ecosystem, access to diverse internet fibre connectivity, high-availability and low-carbon sources of power, and a stable regulatory and political environment.

This investment will also provide a foundation for potential regional expansion.

For Helios, this is the first new deal in almost 16 months. It had inked a control deal with CDG Invest-backed Moroccan medtech group last July. This came soon after it agreed to invest in NBA Africa.

It has been active in generating liquidity for its investors since then with around half a dozen exit and partial exit moves since then.

Most recently, it sold a company in Nigeria in the oil & gas space and as first reported by The Capital Quest, it is on course for another exit.

In May, it struck a partial exit from Interswitch as LeapFrog and Temasek-backed Tana invested in the Nigeria-based payments company.

Earlier this year, it pared its stake in Nigerian gas distributor Axxela.  Last November, Helios struck its second exit of 2021, selling its 27% stake in Vivo Energy. The exit was part of a transaction where Dutch energy and commodities trader Vitol, which owns around 36% of Vivo Energy, offered to buy the remaining shareholders for $1.5 billion.

Two months before the Vivo exit, Helios signed off from GBfoods Africa by selling its 49% stake to joint venture partner GBfoods. Helios had invested in the FMCG firm from its third fund and is believed to have pumped around $125 million into the company.

These moves are expected to boost its fundraising move that has been progressing slowly.

Vivek Sinha

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