May 27, 2020 / 11:32 AM / 2 months ago

Carlyle's Africa dealmakers leave to start their own buyout firm

May 27 (Reuters) - Four dealmakers responsible for Carlyle Group Inc’s Sub-Saharan Africa Fund are leaving to launch their own firm, Carlyle said on Wednesday, in the latest private equity retreat from the continent.

Carlyle will remain active in Africa with its other funds, including Carlyle International Energy Partners.

But the Washington, D.C.-based firm said it would no longer pursue an Africa-dedicated buyout fund to succeed its $700 million Carlyle Sub-Saharan Africa Fund, which it raised in 2014.

This makes Carlyle the latest private equity giant to reduce its Africa exposure and underscores the challenges of dealmaking for Western private equity firms used to large leveraged buyouts of mature companies that can be saddled with debt.

Deals in the region tend to be smaller, the companies younger and thirsty for capital, and opportunities to cash out fewer, often fraught with political and economic risk.

Carlyle said Genevieve Sangudi, Eric Kump, Idris Mohammed and Bruce Steen were leaving to set up a new venture dubbed Alterra Capital.

Carlyle said it will have no stake in Alterra, but will provide deal referrals, advice and co-investment.

Carlyle’s deals in Africa have included a $147 million bet on Nigeria’s Diamond’s Bank, which soured after a shrinking economy, a plunging currency and an oil price slump fueled a spate of defaults. Access Bank, another Nigerian bank, took over Diamond Bank last year.

Carlyle also bought into J&J Transport and Traxys between 2013 and 2014. J&J is an African transport firm with mining customers, while Traxys trades commodities in Africa and provides logistics.

In 2017, peer KKR & Co Inc disbanded its Africa deals team and sold off its controlling stake in an Ethiopian rose farm. That same year, Blackstone Group Inc sold its stake in Black Rhino Group, an African infrastructure development firm, back to its management. (Reporting by Chibuike Oguh in New York; Editing by Barbara Lewis)

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