Vantage Capital Group
Vantage Capital Group is a black investment and financial services group, being 51% owned and controlled by historically disadvantaged South African individuals and groups (“HDSA”). Vantage’s key focus areas are third-party private equity fund management (technology, mezzanine and renewable energy funds), advisory and debt placement services, and on-balance sheet proprietary investments. The group currently has funds under management and investments of over R5 billion ($500 million).
Vantage Capital was one of the first black-owned and managed private equity companies in South Africa, and is one of the few remaining independent black-owned private equity and investment companies which are not linked to any major financial institution. Vantage Capital was launched in 2001 (after a merger with MMR Equity Capital) with the purpose of establishing a Venture Capital Technology Fund with commitments from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), the Transnet Retirement Fund and the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund.
Since inception in 2001, the Vantage Technology Fund has invested R130 million ($13 million) in ten investments ranging from small start-ups, to larger established listed entities. Six investments, Mosaic Software, VoxTelecom, ComTech, Aquitec, Grapevine and Spescom have been successfully exited. Three investments have been written off and the remaining actively-managed investment, L@w, is cash flow positive, highly profitable, and has exciting growth plans. The fund is now in the last phases of divestiture.
In the latter part of 2004, having had nearly four years’ experience in private equity, and being a majority black-owned and controlled group, Vantage Capital decided to pursue opportunities that were arising out of the BEE Charters. To this end, Vantage Capital Investments was established to source proprietary investment opportunities, which would not conflict with the existing Technology Fund in terms of industry sector and size of transaction. To date, Vantage Capital Investments has participated in three such transactions, namely Incwala, ComCorp and Kwikspace. Vantage successfully exited its investment in Incwala in 2010.
In early 2005, with the investment period on the technology fund coming to an end, Vantage Capital started to explore the possibility of raising a second fund. With the help of the Dutch Development Bank FMO, it was decided that the low interest rate environment then prevailing in SA - which represented a significant departure from the high interest rates that characterised the eighties and nineties in the country - supported the establishment of a mezzanine fund. The fund raising process culminated in the final closing of the Vantage Mezzanine Fund in November 2007, with commitments of R1,003 million ($100 million). One-third of the funds were raised from foreign investors and the balance from local institutions and the Group as a co-investment commitment. In 2007/2008, the Fund was fully invested in five transactions in South Africa, namely Safripol, York Timbers, Tsebo, Primedia and Masivumeni. By December 2013, Vantage had successfully exited three of these investments.
In March 2012, Vantage Mezzanine closed Mezzanine Fund II, which has a pan-African investment focus (with a 35% allocation to opportunities outside South Africa) and can make investments of up to R300 million ($30 million) in a single transaction. R1.9 billion ($190 million) of commitments were secured from fourteen pension funds, three charitable endowments, two development finance institutions and a family office. To date, Vantage has deployed approximately one-half of its commitments and is well on track to be fully invested by the end of 2014.
Vantage is well-positioned as Africa’s leading mezzanine financier, capitalising on its strong position in the South African mezzanine market and building a portfolio of income generating mezzanine assets in South Africa and in the rest of Africa.
In 2012 Vantage started a Debt Capital Markets business which focuses on raising public and private debt for mid-size and large corporates, in the local and international debt capital markets (including corporate and hybrid bonds). The business also provides debt advisory services including debt restructurings, distressed debt advisory, and refinancing.
In 2013, Vantage launched its R2.2 billion ($220 million) GreenX Fund, which provides investors with exposure to South African renewable energy projects. This is achieved through the Fund issuing Asset Backed Notes to its investors and using these proceeds to acquire senior debt in a diversified portfolio of seven solar and wind projects that collectively produce 548 MW.
Mutle Mogase, Chris Lister-James and Colin Rezek are the founders of Vantage Capital. The group is chaired by Mutle Mogase, Technology is directed by Chris Lister-James, Mezzanine is headed by Colin Rezek and Luc Albinski, Debt Capital Markets is led by Ashley Benatar and GreenX is led by Alastair Campbell. They are supported by fourteen investment professionals and thirteen support and administrative staff.
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