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19 May 2021

Charles Russell Speechlys Africa Team advises Ascent Rift Valley Fund II

The Charles Russell Speechlys Africa Team has advised Ascent Capital Africa on the establishment and fund raising for its second fund, Ascent Rift Valley Fund II (ARVF II), which has had its first rolling close at more than USD 100 million, significantly exceeding its initial target of USD 80 million. The final close of ARVF II, with a target of USD 120 million, is expected in December 2021.

ARVF II will invest equity in leading small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Eastern Africa, looking to take large minority or majority stakes. The fund will provide funding to scalable SME businesses, helping to drive wider business and industrial development, particularly targeting the financial services, manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade and services, education, healthcare, and agro-processing sectors. ARVF II seeks to invest in growing companies with the courage and ambition to become best-in-class, thereby creating a league of "regional enterprise champions" in East Africa.

Investors in the Fund include leading Africa investors such as BIO (Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries, CDC Group (the UK's development finance institution), FMO (Dutch entrepreneurial development bank), IFC (the International Finance Corporation), Norfund (the Norwegian investment fund for developing countries), Proparco (through AFD Group’s FISEA fund), SDG Frontier Fund, impact investors and major Kenyan pension funds.

Commenting on the close, Lucas Kranck, Founding Partner at Ascent Capital Africa, said: “Many thanks to Victoria, Keir and the wider team at Charles Russell Speechlys for the great support throughout this process”; and David Owino, fellow Founding Partner at Ascent Capital Africa added:  “We enjoyed working with Charles Russell Speechlys and appreciated all the valuable advice, in particular the crucial input in the latter stages to enable us to achieve the close. We look forward to working further with the firm’s Africa Team in the future.”

Corporate partner, Victoria Younghusband said: “We are very pleased to have assisted Ascent Capital Africa on this process for its second fund, which showcases our team’s work in fund formation, and also complements our transaction advisory experience and expertise, (for funds and corporates), across Africa. Personally, I am delighted for Lucas and David and the rest of the team on the successful conclusion to this stage of ARVF II’s life and wish them all the best in the next stages too.”

Adrian Mayer, head of the firm’s Africa Team added: “I have known Lucas for a long time and am so pleased for him and the rest of the Ascent team on this successful fund raise, which was undertaken in unique and challenging circumstances. The first close of this fund comes at good time for our firm too, as we are deepening and refocussing our commitment to the Financial Services & Funds sector, which will supplement our existing expertise and experience with Africa focussed businesses across the firm. We look forward to working further with Ascent in the months ahead.”

The Charles Russell Speechlys Corporate and Financial Services & Funds team was led by Partner Victoria Younghusband, and included Partners Adrian Mayer and Keir Gordon, Associate Edidem Basiekanem and Trainees Zoe Bowler and Giulia Brunello.

For further information regarding the Fund, please see Ascent's press release here. 

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