Canada’s Buffett to Create Pan-Africa Investment Firm

Fairfax Africa Holdings Corp. agreed to merge with Helios Holdings Ltd. to create a pan-African money manager and investment firm looking for opportunities across the continent.

Helios Fairfax Partners Corp., as the new entity will be known, will be listed in Toronto and majority owned by Fairfax, the companies said in a statement on Friday. Tope Lawani and Babatunde Soyoye, who co-founded Helios Investment Partners LLP, will run the new group as joint chief executive officers.

“The transaction gives frontier and emerging-market investors an interesting way to gain exposure in the African companies in our portfolio,” Lawani said by phone. “We take a long-term view on our investments, and many have proved resilient even in this pandemic with a number of our investments in sectors such as telecommunications, payments and food.”

Helios has been raising third-party private capital for many years to invest on the continent, backing companies such as Helios Towers Plc and Vivo Energy Plc, that went on to list in London.

“With this transaction we are also gaining permanent capital and capital from public markets, that can be used to develop and accelerate growth, products and strategy,” Lawani said.

Helios has been targeting a new $1.25 billion Africa-focused fund, with the U.K.’s development-finance arm, CDC Group, having committed $100 million. The raising comes as businesses across Africa struggle with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on national economies.

Fairfax was founded and still run by Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa, sometimes known as Canada’s Warren Buffett. Helios will have a 46% stake and voting interest in the new company.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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