Private Equity: Africa To Lure More Limited Partnerships
Private Equity Africa - Apr 20, 2012
Global Limited Partner (LP) investors are increasing their focus on Sub-Saharan Africa, according to a recent survey from the Emerging Markets Private Equity Association (EMPA).
Sub-Saharan Africa climbed into the number five slot on the survey’s emerging markets attractiveness index this year, from seventh place in 2011. The region was ranked eighth in 2010. The interest in Sub-Saharan Africa signaled one of the sharpest rises in interest, with Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa taking the lead.
The increased focus on Sub-Saharan Africa is part of a broader push by LPs to get into less-penetrated emerging markets, which includes Latin America, Southeast Asia and Turkey. Brazil however still stands to see the largest inflow of new capital, with China and Southeast Asia following close behind. About 20% of those surveyed plan to expand investments in Sub-Saharan Africa, while 21% say they will begin investing in the region.
Overall, 75% of the LPs surveyed expect their commitments to emerging markets to increase over the next two years. By contrast, only 26% anticipate expanding investments in developed markets over the same time period. A good majority, 72%, expect 2011-vintage emerging market funds to deliver net returns of at least 16%, compared with only 26% of LPs that believe the same of developed market PE funds.
“The picture has changed from over a year ago, sentiments have changed and the clouds are lifting,” said Brian Lim, partner at Pantheon Ventures. “Investors in these markets are feeling more positive from the bottom-up fundamentals in their portfolios because the health of the underlying companies has picked up.”
The vast majority of the LPs are placing their bets on China, with 76% expecting at least 16% in returns, followed by Southeast Asia and Latin America funds. In general, LPs currently investing in emerging markets were found to have a more optimistic view on performance than LPs without exposure.
Sub-Saharan Africa was ranked seventh in its ability to deliver returns of at least16%, with 50% of the LPs holding this expectancy. The region surpasses Russia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, Middle East and North Africa, and the Central and Eastern Europe region.
The optimism over Sub-Saharan Africa is however clouded by political risk concerns, which have returned as the top-most reason not to invest in Africa. Concerns over politics had subsided in 2011, when 39% labeled this a deterrent. This has now risen to 66% in the latest survey.
Last year, the LPs most worried about the limited number of experienced GPs, with 47% voicing fears of this. This has risen to 50% in the latest report. The LPs are also apprehensive about regulations in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is also a concern for China, Russia and the Middle East and North Africa region.
The ability to allocate significant swathes of capital to Africa is an additional hurdle, with the LPs saying the scale is too small. On the other hand, the LPs are less concerned about competition and valuations in Sub-Saharan Africa, which has become a significant worry in India and Brazil. India topped the charts on both concerns.
EMPEA surveyed 106 LPs across 28 countries, with an aggregate of $400 billion in assets under management.