Market News

UK fund Actis in talks to buy Java, Brookside Dairy owner

Actis seeks to acquire 100 per cent stake in Java. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Abraaj Holdings’ Kenyan assets could soon have a new owner after UK-headquartered private equity fund, Actis, kicked off talks with its liquidators.

News agency Reuters quoted unnamed sources close to the talks as saying Actis had placed a bid to buy the African assets worth about Sh320 billion from Abraaj.

If successful, Actis will take up a 10 per cent stake in Brookside Dairy and a 100 per cent stake in high-end coffee chain Java, with operations in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

The report said Kuwait’s giant logistics firm Agility — which has teamed up with New York-based Centerbridge Partners, York Capital as well as Abu Dhabi Financial Group—had separately filed bids for Abraaj’s Africa assets. Agility also has significant operations in Kenya and other African countries.

The bids filed with the fund’s provisional liquidators, PwC, are being scrutinised before presentation to the High Court in Caymans Islands for approval and adoption.

The report said the new owner will be known by year-end, concluding a chequered in-roads into Africa. The fund bought stakes largely considered imprudent.

Abraaj filed for provisional liquidation in the Cayman Islands in June to forestall several petitions by its funders after it delayed to pay for matured funds.

Actis, founded 14 years ago, has Sh1.3 trillion under management employing more than 200 people among them 100 investment professionals. It has investments in Africa, Asia and Latin America, according to its website.

Actis owns the high-end shopping mall-cum-residential mini-city Garden City on Thika Road and is putting up Grade A offices on a 23-acre plot at its Dandora site. Last week Actis announced venturing into intelligent warehousing space via a partnership with South African-based logistics operator Improvon.

The investment is seeking to put up warehouses on a 103-acre plot along Nairobi’s Eastern bypass where they are eyeing bulk importation and repackaging business from increased intra-Africa trade.

However, the Actis’ bid excludes Abraaj’s interests in Kenya’s healthcare facilities Avenue, Nairobi Women’s, Metropolitan and Ladnan Hospitals, which were bought using funds from an independent kitty, Africa healthcare Growth Fund established using funds from healthcare investments from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and U.S. pension funds.

The healthcare assets have attracted US private equity fund, The Rising Fund(TFG) and KKR & Co.