KKR Makes Maiden African Investment

Jun 5 2014 | 10:30am ET

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts has moved into, for it, uncharted territory with its first-ever investment in Africa.

The private-equity giant has taken a stake in Ethiopia’s Afriflora, which grows roses for sale in the European market. Nor is KKR alone: P.E. investment in sub-Saharan Africa jumped 43% last year, to US$1.6 billion.

KKR will invest about US$200 million from its European fund in Afriflora. The money will be used to increase the company’s size by two-thirds and to add some 5,000 employees. The farm’s founders, a Dutch family named Barnhoon, will continue to manage the operation and will remain investors in the company.

“We see Africa as a long-term attractive investment destination,” KKR’s head for the continent, Kayode Akinola, said. “The potential is astounding. But the work to get there is going to be considerable.”

KKR added Kayode from Helios Investment Partners last year. He will join Afriflora’s board, along with another KKR executive, Matteo Bozzo.

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