Helios agrees merger deal with Fairfax Africa

13 Jul 2020
Financial Nigeria


The merger between Africa-focused Helios and Toronto-based Fairfax Africa will create a much bigger and diversified investment platform to be called Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation.

Tope Lawani, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Helios Investment Partners LLP

Helios Holdings Limited, the largest Africa-focused private investment firm, has agreed to merge its operations with Fairfax Africa Holdings Corporation, a Toronto-based investment holding company in a deal that will create a much bigger and diversified investment platform to be called Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation (HFP). Under the terms of the deal, Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited – the parent company of Fairfax Africa and founded by Canadian billionaire, Prem Watsa – will retain controlling interest in the combined entity, according to a statement released on Friday by the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX)-listed Fairfax Africa.

Helios Holdings – co-founded by Tope Lawani and Babatunde Soyoye – agreed to contribute its management and performance fees from current and future Helios funds to Fairfax Africa in exchange for a 45.9 per cent equity and voting interest in Fairfax Africa. Lawani and Soyoye, who are Managing Partners of Helios Investment Partners LLP, will be appointed as co-Chief Executive Officers of HFP.

On closing of the transaction, HFP will continue to be listed on the TSX. According to Fairfax Africa, its current CEO, Michael Wilkerson, will become the Executive Vice Chairman of HFP, which is expected to have an enlarged capital base and increased capacity to create more differentiated Africa-focused asset management strategies and initiatives.  

“We are proud to be partnering with Fairfax Financial and Prem Watsa on this next step of Helios’ development,” Tope Lawani said. “The combination leverages our mutual strengths and enables us to provide public market investors with unique access to a differentiated set of investment opportunities on the African continent, as we have been doing for our partners in our private funds.”

Founded in 2004, Helios has combined assets under management of over $3.6 billion and investments in over 30 African countries. The private equity firm, based in London with operations in Lagos, Nairobi and Paris, has had four successful funds. Investors in its latest fund, Helios IV, include CDC Group, the United Kingdom’s development finance institution, which committed $100 million to the fund last week.

Upon closing the transaction with Fairfax Africa, Helios will be appointed sole investment adviser to HFP. Helios will also continue to pursue the growth of its third-party investment advisory business in Africa-focused alternative assets. The deal is subject to the approval of shareholders of the Canadian firm and regulatory approvals, including by TSX.  

“We are excited to partner with Tope and Babatunde in establishing Helios Fairfax Partners,” said Prem Watsa, who is Chairman and CEO of Fairfax Financial Holdings. “They have an outstanding track record in investing in Africa over the past 15 years.  We believe this partnership will be good for Africa, the shareholders of Fairfax Africa and Helios and the employees of both organizations.”

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