* Akinola quits KKR to start firm with Marlon Chigwende
* Firm to target investments of less than $100 mln in equity
By Dasha Afanasieva
LONDON, Jan 11 The former regional heads for
Africa at private equity giants KKR and Carlyle
are setting up an investment firm, Arkana Partners, to target
local equity investments of up to $100 million.
Kayode Akinola told Reuters on Wednesday that he was leaving
KKR to join forces with Marlon Chigwende, who left his role as
Africa chief at rival Carlyle in 2016, as private equity
opportunities in Africa are often seen as too small for the
buyout industry's titans.
"We will be focused on the mid-cap, where we believe the
bulk of opportunities are," Akinola said, adding that while the
emphasis will be on private equity investments the new firm will
be flexible in its approach.
"You need to bring your entire tool bag to the market. (In
Africa) you can't just say you're only going to do buy-outs or
just greenfield," he said, referring to developing projects,
often in infrastructure, from scratch.
The new firm will look for ventures which are ready to
absorb up to $100 million but will mostly focus on opportunities
requiring between $20 and $60 million of equity, Akinola said,
highlighting that what counts as "mid-cap" can vary widely in
different African economies.
It remained unclear when fundraising for the new venture
would take place or how much the firm aimed to raise.
KKR, a global investment firm with more than $131 billion in
assets under management, invests in Africa with its European
private equity fund and targets at least $125 million in equity
but more typically between $200 and $250 million, according to
sources close to the firm.
Akinola joined KKR in 2013 amid growing hopes for the region
to lead and develop the firm's African efforts from
Africa-focused Helios Investment Partners. Since then KKR has
managed one investment in Africa, putting $200 million into
Afriflora, a flower company in Ethiopia. Akinola remains on its
KKR will continue to examine deals in the region on a
selective basis, the sources said.
Akinola, a Nigerian, and Chigwende who is originally from
Zimbabwe, are setting up their firm as Sub-Saharan Africa's two
biggest economies face significant political and economic
Nigeria's economic recession deepened in the third quarter
of last year as production of oil, its main export, fell.
Meanwhile South Africa's economy barely grew in the same
quarter as the manufacturing sector contracted sharply and
investors worry whether the government can implement policies to
Akinola remains unperturbed by any macroeconomic fears over
Africa, where the U.N. says more than half of the world's
population growth between now and 2050 is projected to take
"The thing about emerging markets is that sometimes you have
to be countercyclical. Africa continues to be a market where
structural demand across most sectors will drive long term
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)