Vantage Capital was one of the first black-owned and managed private equity companies in South Africa, and is one of 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 Transnet Retirement Fund and the Eskom Pension and Provident Fund.
Since inception in 2001, the Vantage Technology Fund has invested R130 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 or risk capital fund. The fund raising process culminated in the final closing of Vantage Mezzanine Fund I in November 2007, with commitments of R1,003 million ($125 million). One-third of the funds were raised from foreign investors and the balance from local institutions and from the Group as a co-investment commitment.
In March 2012, Vantage Risk Capital closed Mezzanine Fund II, which has a pan-African investment focus (with a 35% allocation to opportunities outside South Africa) and can make investments up to R300 million ($38 million) in a single transaction. R1.9 billion ($230 million) of commitments were secured from fourteen pension funds, three charitable endowments, two development finance institutions and a family office.
Vantage is well-positioned as Africa’s leading mezzanine financier to capitalise on its strong position in the South African mezzanine market, to build 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.
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, and Advisory is led by Ashley Benatar. They are supported by seven investment professionals and eleven support and administrative staff.