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UK fund Actis seeks Comesa agency nod for Abraaj takeover

Java House outlet.
A Java House outlet. The chain was among Abraaj’s investment. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

UK’s Private equity firm Actis has approached the Comesa Competition Commission (CCC) seeking its nod to acquire the rights to manage two private equity funds previously under collapsed Dubai firm Abraaj.

Actis announced in July it will take over the management rights to Abraaj Private Equity Fund IV and Abraaj Africa fund III. The transaction includes investments in 14 portfolio companies across the two funds, Actis said.

Abraaj had stakes in Kenyan restaurant chain Java and Kenyatta family-owned milk processor Brookside Dairy.

Abraaj had before its collapse injected Sh320 billion in 80 transactions across Africa with a big bet on Kenya. It was yet to disclose the exact value of its Kenya portfolio by the time of its collapse.

“The Commission will, in accordance with the provisions of the regulations, determine among other things whether or not the merger is likely to substantially prevent or lessen competition within the Common Market and whether the merger is or would be contrary to the public interest as provided for under Article 26 of the Regulations,” said the Comesa agency following the Actis application.

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“In view of this, the Commission hereby gives notice to all interested stakeholders, including competitors, suppliers and customers of the merging parties to submit written representations to the Commission with regard to the subject matter.”

The Actis transaction came after the finalisation of two other Abraaj deals — the transfer of management of the $1 billion healthcare fund to US buyout fund TPG and the sale of Abraaj’s Latin America fund to Colony Capital.

US prosecutors have in recent months charged several senior executives of Abraaj with criminal charges, accusing them of taking part in a massive international scheme to defraud investors.

The arrest of collapsed Abraaj executives on fraud charges heightened uncertainty among Kenyan firms where the fund had pumped billions before collapse.

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