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East African firm deals hit Sh174 billion

Companies in East Africa have disclosed that they closed 110 deals last year with a total value of $1.74 billion (about Sh174 billion), according to the latest annual East Africa Financial Review published by I & M Burbidge Capital on Wednesday.

The biggest of these was the $48.5 million Green Bond raised by Arcon Holdings and which is meant to fund the sustainable real estate developments, including the building of hostels for university students.

The bond was first listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) before its London Stock Exchange (LSE) cross-listing. It started trading at the LSE on January 20 after President Uhuru Kenyatta, who was in London for the UK-Africa Summit, launched it.

The bond became the first Kenya shilling-denominated corporate green bond to be listed in the UK. Although it started trading at the NSE on January 13, the Burbidge report says the deal was closed in 2019. The report also notes that the median size of the deals stood at $12 million.

“The total disclosed deal value decreased yet again from $3.15 billion in 2018 to $1.74 in 2019,” said Edward Burbidge and Kevin Kuria, who co-authored the report. Despite the decline, the report holds a positive outlook for 2020.

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Among the notable deals concluded in Kenya were AfricInvest and Catalyst Principal Partners $50 million investment in Prime Bank, the $29.7 million Goldman Sachs-led Series B investment in Twiga Foods and Centum Investment Company’s $193 million exited Almasi Beverages.

“In Kenya, expected acceleration in private sector credit growth … is expected to be a key driver of private sector investment and economic growth,” says the report.

“Economic reforms in Ethiopia and Tanzania are expected to attract foreign investment and spur growth.”

Already, several Kenyan firms in diverse sectors, such as banking, telecoms and logistics have indicated their interest in doing business in Ethiopia this year as the country prepares to open investment window for foreign companies.

I & M Burbidge Capital, itself a transaction adviser, was involved in the merger of Colourprint and Printfast (K) Ltd with The Print Exchange Ltd. It was also involved in two confidential transactions, one involving a logistics technology company and other involving a Tier I bank.

According to the report, there were 76 private equity and venture capital deals that were disclosed across East Africa last year with a total value of $951.2 million.

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