Helios & Fairfax to partner on Africa investments

July 2020 saw the announcement of a proposed strategic transaction between Helios Holdings and Fairfax Africa Holdings to create a new entity known as the Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation that aims to become the leading pan-Africa focused listed alternative asset manager with unique capabilities to invest across the continent.

Helios will contribute some management and performance fees it currently earns in exchange for 46% of the venture while Fairfax will retain control of the combined entity.

Helios, founded in 20004, manages $3.6 billion of assets, as Africa’s largest private equity fund with stakes in Nigerian oil (49% of Oando), e-commerce (Mall for Africa), payments (Interswitch) and South African telecom tower firms.

Helios will be the sole investment advisor to the partnership on all deals including Fairfax’s purchase of a stake in Atlas Mara for $40 million. The Co-Founders and Managing Partners of Helios, Tope Lawani and Babatunde Soyoye, will be Joint CEO’s while the current CEO of Fairfax, Michael Wilkerson, will become the Executive Chairman of the new entity.  

In Kenya, Helios first made a splash in 2007 buying 25% of Equity Bank and then going on to sell its stake in 2015 netting $500 million. They have since been involved in deals such as the Acorn green bond, Telkom Kenya, Wananchi Group and Vivo Energy.

Current investors in Helios include CDC which has invested over $100 million, and the IFC. Fairfax Africa shareholders will be asked to approve the deal that has been unanimously approved by a special board committee, that was advised by Alvarium, and have it completed in the third quarter of 2020. The partnership will be listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, where Fairfax shares currently trade.  

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