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StanChart cuts African private equity team as economies struggle

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JOHANNESBURG


The head of Standard Chartered’s African fund, which has $800 million invested, is set to leave the bank as it trims its private equity team on the continent, its global head of private equity said on Monday.

Peter Baird, who was appointed in 2011 and has 20 years experience in private equity and investment banking, will be replaced by Ronald Tamale, a former Goldman Sachs analyst, CEO of Standard Chartered Private Equity Joe Stevens told Reuters.

Baird declined to comment. It was not clear if he quit or was removed.

African economies have struggled over the last year with lower commodity prices, rising government debt and weakening currencies.

Many of Standard Chartered’s investments are in Nigeria, where subdued oil prices have pushed Africa’s biggest economy to the brink of recession and banks have wrestled with acute foreign exchange shortages.

Yemi Osindero, head of Standard Chartered’s West Africa private equity business, is also leaving the bank, along with his colleague Nana Dankwa, to start an independent African fund, a Standard Chartered private equity source told Reuters.

Stevens said there would now be eight Africa specialists working on its private equity business.

However, two private equity sources close to Standard Chartered’s fund said there would be five staff working directly on the Africa private equity team, down from 11 a year ago.

Goldman Sachs and Blackrock are among the investors in the fund, two industry sources said.

Stevens said that the reduced staff numbers were in line with its broader strategy and its fund was performing well, despite some economic challenges in Nigeria.

“This is part of a strategy to be leaner, more efficient and more integrated,” Stevens said.

“Our portfolio in Africa is in very strong shape. Africa remains a key part of our strategy.”

Standard Chartered’s Africa investments include Union Bank , aluminium can manufacturer GZI and gas-focused explorer, Seven Energy, all in Nigeria.

Nigerian banks have been hammered by a shrinking economy, a plunging currency and acute foreign exchange shortages. Union Bank’s share price has almost halved since January.

“The UBN share price is largely a currency issue … we anticipate that its share price will increase significantly over time,” Stevens said.

Standard Chartered’s fund also invests in Choppies, a Botswana-based budget supermarket chain. South Africa’s MTN to sell $729 mln stake to black investors
 
JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African mobile phone company MTN Group will sell shares worth 9.9 billion rand ($729 million), a 4 percent stake, to black investors to meet government quotas on black ownership.

Africa’s biggest telecoms firm said the new black economic empowerment deal would be launched via a public offer next month to replace an existing scheme that is due to unwind in November. Under black economic empowerment rules, South African companies are encouraged to meet quotas on black ownership, employment and procurement as part of a drive to reverse decades of exclusion under apartheid.

Meeting government rules on black ownership makes a company more likely to qualify for government tenders. MTN said it will sell the shares at 102.80 rand – a nearly 20 percent discount to Friday’s closing price. If fully subscribed, the offer, along with the existing scheme, will give black investors more than 30 percent of the company’s South African operations.

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