New York-based KKR, Blackstone, Paul Tudor Jones help drive investment as Africa makes historic shift from aid to trade
By Simon Clark (WSJ)|
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—A generation ago, this African nation was a magnet for Western charity. Today, some of America’s richest deal makers are delivering something new: investment.
A number of high-profile investors have recently shown up here. KKR & Co., the New York-based private-equity firm, last summer bought control of a rose farm, Afriflora, for about $200 million, its first investment in Africa. Blackstone Group plans to build a $1.35 billion pipeline to bring gasoline to the capital, Addis Ababa. Hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones is backing a $2 billion geothermal power project.
The investors are following in the footsteps of Irish punk rock singer turned activist Bob Geldof, whose Live Aid concerts 30 years ago this summer raised about $145 million for the victims of a devastating Ethiopian famine. Mr. Geldof now chairs 8 Miles LLP, a London-based private-equity firm that invests in Ethiopia. 8 Miles raised a $200 million fund in 2012; Mr. Geldof put in a few hundred thousand dollars.
“They don’t have to die in vast numbers before we pay attention,” Mr. Geldof said in an interview. “The potential rewards in Africa are far greater than anywhere else.”
8 Miles, named after the shortest distance between Europe and Africa, made its first investments in Ethiopia in 2013, including state-owned Awash Winery. 8 Miles plans to double production at the company, add nonalcoholic drinks such as grape juice and increase exports, said partner Doug Agble. The firm also backed Ethiopian entrepreneur Eleni Gabre-Madhin in 2013 to build commodity exchanges across Africa.
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