Private equity company Ethos Capital, based in Mauritius, listed on South Africa’s JSE on 5 August after R1.8 billion ($131 million) oversubscribed private placement for institutional investors. The listing is a unique combination of a liquid listed share which invests into a diversified pool of unlisted private equity investments. It is aimed particularly at institutional investors, including pension funds.
Ethos had placed 180m A ordinary shares at R10.00 each. Rand Merchant Bank was the financial advisor, sole global coordinator, bookrunner and JSE sponsor. The first trade on Friday was at R10.26, pushing market capitalization up to R1.85bn.
The new fund starts as a cash shell and will invest into a portfolio of unlisted investments with Ethos Private Equity, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest private equity firm, acting as the new company’s fund manager and advisor.
Stuart MacKenzie, CEO of Ethos Private Equity, said in a press release: “Growth is a central principle of Ethos Private Equity’s strategy: value is added by actively transforming the strategy, operations and finances of investee businesses, striving to make them best-in-class. Through pioneering thought leadership, creativity and innovation, Ethos Private Equity has developed a long track record of sustainable investor returns.”
Peter Hayward-Butt, CEO at Ethos Capital, said: “We look forward to investing alongside Ethos Private Equity into high-potential businesses, supporting economic growth and job creation in the long term whilst simultaneously delivering value to our shareholders.”
Ethos Private Equity has a 32-year history and has invested in 104 acquisitions of which 91 have been realized, delivering investment returns with a gross realised internal rate of return (IRR) of 37.4%.
Ethos Capital is expected to invest into:
• Primary investments into various funds to be raised and managed by Ethos Private Equity. EPE is reported to be planning to fund raise for Ethos VII fund by early 2017, targeting R8bn-R10bn with 25% for investments in sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa. Ethos Capital is to commit up to R2.5bn. There is also plans for: a R2.5bn-R3bn Ethos Mid Market Fund I targeting deals of between R100m-R350m which will be majority black-owned and chaired by Sonja de Bruyn Sebotsa, according to Financial Mail, and Ethos Mezzanine Fund I which aims to raise R1.5bn and will be run by a team which formerly operated as Mezzanine Partners.
• Secondary investments by buying interests owned by limited partners (LPs) in existing Ethos funds. This could include up to $600m invested into Ethos VI fund which closed at $800m in 2013 (against a $750m target), according to Private Equity Africa website.
• Direct investments into investee companies alongside Ethos funds
• Temporary investments including a portfolio of low-risk, liquid debt instruments such as South African government bonds and similar instruments, managed by Ashburton Fund Managers.
According to the prospectus, Ethos Capital investors will be charged a management fee of 1.5% of invested net asset value and 0.25% on cash balances. The investors are offered 20% exposure to growth, subject to a 10% hurdle.
Previously Brait, another leading South African private equity company, had listed its portfolio.
Mackenzie says South Africa does not have enough investments in alternative assets such as private equity, according to the Financial Mail, which reports they make up barely 2% of pension fund assets compared with 20% in many developed markets. The listed vehicle will enable funds to share in the outperformance of private equity but will mean they do not have to stay invested for the full fund life, often 10 years.
The report adds that Mackenzie promises investors will not be subjected to a double layer of fees and that Ethos Fund III and IV outperformed listed markets by more than 5% but Fund V, invested in the years before the financial crisis, underperformed listed markets by 2.4%.
A report by RisCura and the SA Venture Capital Association (Savca) shows that private equity in South Africa has generally outperformed the total comparative return of investment of the JSE’s all share and SWIX indices, returning an internal rate of return of 18.5 percent. Over the same period, EPE returned 20.9 percent on realised investments.
Key investors in the private placing reportedly included fund manager giants such as Coronation and Stanlib and emerging managers such as Mergence and Sentio.