Facilitating the establishment of regional companies in sub-Saharan Africa, via Mauritius, is the objective of Creed East Africa, a joint venture created in October between the Lebanese corporate finance consulting company, Creed Capital, and the Mauritius office of BDO, the fifth largest accounting firm in the world.
By announcing the creation of a company in Mauritius, with a local partner, Creed Capital shows its desire to develop in East Africa, a region it already knows. This Lebanese strategy and corporate finance consulting firm has been helping its clients identify new markets, particularly on the continent, since 2009. It was founded by Alexandre Ziad Karkour, who developed his network by working in London and Paris , before settling in Beirut. A choice justified by the “quality of available human resources” and the tax advantages of the Lebanese offshore regime. “We do not work on the Lebanese market, explains the CEO of Creed Capital. Our clientele is made up of family offices and regional companies. We help them to grow their investments abroad, or to expand internationally through mergers and acquisitions. The company is remunerated with fees (“retainers fees”) and a percentage of 1 to 5% on the amount of the transaction in the event of success.
Its first mandates were entrusted to it by European clients, but Lebanese demand was quick to follow and today represents 50% of its clientele. “These are companies established in the Gulf and the Levant which, in the current context, are seeking to diversify their risks by turning in particular to Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. » Regions that Alexandre Ziad Karkour had the opportunity to explore during his European years.
Mauritius, a hub for East Africa
Thus, when the Lebanese insurance company Chedid Capital entrusted him with the task of finding partners in Africa, he introduced him to a group with which he had had the opportunity to work: GML Investissement, a Mauritian conglomerate. “Mauritius is known for the quality of its business environment and has become a platform for sub-Saharan Africa,” underlines Alexandre Ziad Karkour.
In October, after two years of negotiations, Chedid Capital, advised by Creed, acquired a stake in a subsidiary of the Mauritian group, City Brokers (see Le Commerce du Levant no. 5670).
In the process, Creed Capital obtains the exclusive mandate of this new entity to acquire brokers in 10 countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
But "to strengthen our execution capacity, we needed an ally on the spot," says Alexandre Ziad Karkour. He didn't have to look far. The ideal partner sat on the other side of the negotiating table, advising the GML group. This is BDO Mauritius, an audit, tax and finance consulting firm – a member of the global network of BDO, the fifth largest global firm in the sector – which runs eight other offices in the region (in Madagascar, the Seychelles, in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda).
An equal joint venture
The two companies create a joint venture in equal shares, called Creed East Africa, which operates from its two headquarters, in Mauritius and Beirut. "We provide access to the Middle East and they provide expertise on the ground", summarizes Alexandre Ziad Karkour. An alliance of interests in a promising niche. “Africa is one of the last promising frontier markets,” he says. Sign of the ongoing change, the entry of private investment funds in various projects, not just in infrastructure, while these economies were traditionally financed by development funds. “We are seeing the multiplication of small deals”, the niche in which Creed East Africa is positioned. “We cannot compete with international companies on big deals, we aim for smaller transactions. And there is work to do! “says Alexandre Ziad Karkour.
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