Miles Morland, a pioneering Africa investor, has spent more than two decades looking for deals in places where you cannot drink the tap water. If his experience is anything to go by, finding successful private equity opportunities has more to do with sharing a glass of the stronger stuff in African bars.
“In Africa there are hundreds of deals but you have to go and look for them. In the west, investment bankers bring you deals?.?.?.[but], in Africa, investment bankers are way down the food chain. You need to go and hang around the bars?.?.?.?to find the deals,” Mr Morland says.
The case for investing in sub-Saharan Africa is clear. It has some of the fastest growing economies in the world, boosted by a nascent consumer class increasingly thirsty for everything from credit to cappuccinos. And it represents just 4 per cent of the emerging markets private equity asset class – emerging Asia takes the lion’s share at 63 per cent – suggesting there is plenty of room to grow.
But even as private equity groups raise ever larger Africa funds, there are persistent murmurs in the market that there simply are not the deals out there to match. Mr Morland disagrees. Development Partners International, the private equity group he co-founded, has invested the $500m fund it raised in 2008 in nine deals and is raising a new fund of the same size.
然而，尽管私人股本集团在非洲募集的基金规模越来越大，市场却总是抱怨找不到匹配的投资机会。莫兰不同意这种观点。他与人联合创立的私人股本集团Development Partners International已经把2008年募得的5亿美元投资于9项交易，目前还在募集一只同等规模的新基金。
Mr Morland, nevertheless, argues that the high rolling returns of the decade leading up to 2007 are a thing of the past. The “fool’s paradise” era when mobile phone companies grew faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world may have made some investors very rich, he says, but it is long gone.
There is now a glut of new private equity investors plumping for Africa, with money from Brazil, the Middle East and the US entering the fray, jostling with bigger outfits such as Carlyle and KKR. Some of the newcomers are finding private equity investing in sub-Saharan Africa neither as promising nor as simple as sometimes billed.
In the 1990s, returns were hard to find and many good exits fell victim to currency volatility. In the following decade, investors might have earned stellar returns from mobile phone investments but these masked other fund failures.
“In the current 2007-17 cycle, making money will be harder. An internal rate of return of over 20 per cent will look good,” Mr Morland says. “It is a time when careful investors rather than cowboys will do well?.?.?.?The phone game is over.”
Despite the tougher environment, fundraisers are at pains to assemble what one investor calls “big ego” funds. Brazil’s BTG Pactual and others are reaching for the $1bn mark and seeking large deals that the continent’s fragmented market can rarely offer.
尽管环境变得严峻，但募资机构仍在努力组建起一位投资者所称的“自负”(big ego)基金。巴西BTG Pactual等机构的基金直指10亿美元大关，它们寻找的大型项目一般来说不是非洲四分五裂的市场所能提供的。
“When you start going up to writing equity cheques in excess of $75m, there aren’t so many [deals],” says Marlon Chigwende, Carlyle’s Africa co-head. His sub-Saharan Africa fund, which is expected to close above its $500m target in the third quarter, made its first investment last year by taking part in a $210m equity injection in ETG, a Tanzanian agri-commodities trader.
Nor is the competition just for deals. Another emerging headache is what one investor calls the “traffic jam” of fund managers seeking capital from investors. According to Preqin, the data company, 57 Africa-focused private equity funds are looking for $13.1bn, half of which are based in South Africa. While emerging market fundraising increased 72 per cent overall to $40bn in the past two years, fundraising for sub-Saharan Africa fell 3 per cent to $1.45bn last year – well down on its 2008 peak of $2.24bn.
Ethos, a South African private equity company, which has been investing in the region for 25 years, closed one of the continent’s largest funds last year after securing $800m from investors, but it says fundraising “has not been easy”.
Harith, another South African fund manager, had to rely on domestic money after foreign investors shied away.
Roger Leeds, founder of the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association, says the smarter money is targeting middle market deals worth less than $50m, which he believes have stronger growth prospects.
新兴市场私人股本协会(Emerging Markets Private Equity Association)创始人罗杰?利兹(Roger Leeds)表示，更精明的资金正在瞄准5000万美元以下的中等规模投资机会。他认为这一领域的增长前景更为强劲。
“The fund managers are happy to take investors’ money but it puts tremendous pressure on them to do bigger deals and they’re going to run out,” he says. “They’re all complaining they’re finding trouble finding deals and they’re competing with each other and driving up valuations.”
In other words, as the African growth story attracts more and more funds, the going is getting tougher. 换言之，非洲的增长故事吸引了越来越多的资金，但现状却愈发严峻。
That is one reason why resourceful and locally based managers matter so much more today than in the past.
“It’s no longer like venture capital where you take a shotgun approach and hopefully one of the pellets will hit the bullseye,” says veteran fund manager Michael Turner at Actis, the UK-based fund manager, which is raising money for a new global fund that will include Africa. “In today’s African private equity you can’t afford to have failures – it’s extremely hard to come back in a portfolio to deliver an overall good profit if you’ve had one or two wipeouts.”
Sev Vettivetpillai has made dozens of Africa investments and exits as head of Aureos, which was bought by Abraaj Capital of the United Arab Emirates last year. He says the days of flying in and out of Africa and managing investments from a distance are over.
作为欧瑞斯(Aureos)的首席执行官，塞夫?维蒂维特皮莱(Sev Vettivetpillai)在非洲做过许多投资，也曾退出其中的一些投资。欧瑞斯去年被阿联酋的Abraaj Capital收购。他表示，不停往返非洲、远程管理投资的日子已经远去。
“The growth story is very valid and real across Africa, but it still remains that if you pick the wrong partner and the wrong industry, you’re not likely to be benefiting from that growth story. Without the right management team you will lose your money. You won’t get out of that hole.”
Additional reporting by Andrew England and Anne-Sylvaine Chassany
安德鲁*英格兰(Andrew England)和安妮-西尔万*沙萨尼(Anne-Sylvaine Chassany)补充报道.