GHANA– Actis, a leading investor of private capital into global emerging markets, has announced that it has exited its majority stake in GHL Bank, a full-scale commercial bank in Ghana, to First National Bank Ghana, a 100% subsidiary of FirstRand Group. Actis took over the investment in 2019 when it took over the management of Abraaj Africa Fund III.
The transaction has received the required regulatory approvals from the Bank of Ghana and the South African Reserve Bank.
The fund invested in GHL Bank in 2016, and enabled the company to leverage its unique value proposition as the leading mortgage provider in Ghana to achieve the transition into a full-scale commercial bank focused on the retail sector.
The original investment thesis was premised on GHL’s robust mortgage model, deep knowledge of the retail customer and the significant growth opportunities that exist within this segment of the Ghanaian banking industry.
This is the third exit from the Abraaj Africa funds since Actis assumed management rights and follows Actis’ sale of the fund’s stake in Custodian & Allied Insurance Plc, a leading Nigerian insurance company and Fan Milk International (FMI), a leading West Africa-focused food production company.
The GHL exit builds on the firm’s excellent track record of exiting to strategic buyers in Africa, as illustrated with the recent exit of Compuscan to Experian plc for over US$250m in 2019.
Actis is the largest private capital investment firm in Africa and the largest private capital real estate investor in the continent. It has US$4.5 bn invested in Africa spread across real estate, private equity investments, energy and infrastructure.
The Abraaj Africa Fund III invested in GHL Bank in 2016. Actis took over the fund, which invests in sub-Saharan Africa, in July 2019 alongside a second global Abraaj fund. In August last year the firm acquired two more Abraaj vehicles, with a focus on Africa and Asia.
The collapse of Abraaj, once the world’s largest emerging markets private equity firm, has provided opportunities for Actis to expand into new markets by taking over management of its assets. Abraaj filed for liquidation in 2018, when investors claimed that the firm had mismanaged some of their money.