Old Mutual increases its Africa footprint

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Cape Town - The Old Mutual [JSE:OML] Investment Group, which is the largest private sector investor in Africa, has embarked on a capital-raising programme to increase its investment in sustainable projects on the continent by a further $1bn over the next two years.

The company, which has more than $1bn in Pan African investment beyond SA, is already well established in Southern and East Africa. However, the new tranche of investments will see it grow its presence in West Africa, particularly in Nigeria.

Old Mutual Investment group’s director of investment, Hywel George, says the company is set to capitalise on its unique advantage as a market leader on the continent and will continue to implement strategies in line with the projected future impact of Africa’s growing economies on investment returns.

Fixed interest arenas

Significant new agricultural investment pipelines include over $300m in potential opportunities on the continent, excluding SA, which are currently being developed by its various investment teams.

George says the investment focus is largely directed at sustainable projects around key development themes which also go beyond listed equity. These include alternative investment and fixed interest arenas such as low carbon energy, education, affordable housing,  infrastructure real estate, agriculture and unlisted debt, diversified across countries, asset types, managers and economic/inflation cycles.

“Over the past few years we have made a meaningful impact in the region by committing investment funding of around $500m across this broad array of investments,” says George.

“By investing in schools, housing and infrastructure, we are not only supporting the development of the continent and making a lasting, positive impact on the social landscape, but also ensuring sustainable returns for investors.

"While private equity investments on the continent remain long term, they are giving us net real returns of 2% to 3% above listed assets.”

George notes that the world is finally awakening to the emergence of Africa and its exciting GDP as the next big regional growth story.

Increasingly accessing services

“China continues to expand its investment on the continent, while figures show there is also an increasing appetite for investment from the Middle Eastern economies, followed by Nordic countries, Asia, Latin America, the rest of Europe and the UK.

“The real story remains that of the developing consumer market across the continent, driving the growth of the
retail sector. These consumers are increasingly accessing services in banking, insurance and mobile telecoms.

"Housing and infrastructure development also remains a key theme as well as the substantial opportunities in agriculture.”

Figures show that 10 years ago, there were 116 million people constituting the middle class in Africa. Currently, this figure stands at over 326 million people, about a third of the continent. This compares to about 54% of the population in Asia and 77% of the population in Latin America.

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