At the recent annual Africa Global Funds (AGF) awards ceremony held on in Sandton, Johannesburg, Bravura was named the Best Independent Advisory Firm for 2019.  The AGF awards seek to recognise the excellence of fund service providers that are realising Africa’s investment potential.

An independent investment bank specialising in the provision of corporate finance, structured solutions and B-BBEE ownership transaction advisory services, Bravura Holdings has a primary listing on the Stock Exchange of Mauritius and a secondary listing on the NSX.  It has offices in Mauritius, South Africa, Namibia and Australia.

Rob Bergman, Principal at Bravura who was present at the gala awards ceremony to accept the award says: “AGF are the only international awards for African fund services and have come to be regarded as a symbol of excellence.  Bravura is currently involved in the substantial activity on the continent with client mandates spanning 13 countries spread across Africa.  Those who operate on the continent can attest to the unique aspects and challenges that present themselves in each jurisdiction and which require strong local knowledge, innovative thinking and tenacity.  Thus to have been nominated by AGF for the work that our teams are undertaking here is an immensely proud moment for us.”

Rob Bergman, Bravura Principal

According to Bergman  the company advises listed and private companies and entrepreneurs using a client-centric approach which is fundamental to building long-term, mutually beneficial relationships founded on trust and respect.  “This is particularly relevant for clients who are serious about the long-term gains to be made in Africa, and where deal mandates can extend beyond the ten-year mark.”

Bravura’s nomination was supported by three particular transactions which each displayed unique and complex characteristics.   The first was a cross-border investment into an African jurisdiction.  Bravura facilitated a capital raise for foreign family-run business in order to fund the acquisition of a majority share in a Malawi-based business.

“Although anticipated as a straightforward transaction, the minority shareholder requirements and a risky investment jurisdiction resulted in a more complex, protracted transaction that included three parallel processes; one with the seller, one with the minority shareholder (who enjoyed certain pre-emptive rights) and one with the funder.  This required a consistently strong set of technical skills combined with the development of good relationships with the client and other stakeholders in order to ensure that everyone remained invested in the process,” says Bergman.

The second was the facilitation of a broad-based black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) transaction for a family-owned business which leveraged a unique, first-of-its-kind solution in South Africa’s agricultural sector.   Acting as the exclusive corporate advisor to Schoonbee Landgoed, which has been farming in the Loskop Valley in the Limpopo Province for 75 years, Bravura facilitated senior debt and mezzanine funding to enable the development of a significant empowerment initiative with a pioneering black-owned equity partner, Thebe Investment Corporation.

The project consisted of two recently developed farms with existing income contributed by Schoonbee Landgoed and private equity from Thebe towards the acquisition of an additional 400 hectares of land. Senior debt and mezzanine funding were raised from the Landbank to fund the developments.  As a result of the successful transaction, it is anticipated that over 1,200 new jobs will be directly created with an estimated impact on 8,000 jobs throughout the complete value chain in the country.

The third transaction enabled the access of foreign private equity for a South African company and support of the company through a challenging transaction to raise capital at a premium to its JSE listed price, followed by a delisting.  Bergman explains: “A number of small-capitalisation firms are opting to delist from the JSE due to low trading volumes in the face of dominant players.

As an exclusive corporate adviser to the Efficient Group, Bravura facilitated the purchase of shares by international private equity investor, Apis Partners, to replace part of the convertible loan owing to one of the founders of a significant part of the Efficient Group’s business.  Subsequently, Apis Partners offered to buy all minority shareholding in the group with the result that the company will be able to delist from the JSE, so as to remove the operational constraints experienced in the listed space.  The project spanned almost two years due to its complexity, concluding in 2019 at a transaction value of R480 million.”

In conclusion, Bergman says that according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Report for 2019, Africa has escaped the global decline in foreign direct investment (FDI) with flows to the continent continuing to rise.  “In 2018, FDI increased on the continent by 11% to US$46 billion in 2018.  This signals both the investor appetite of developed countries, who remain the dominant players, as well as the expansion of multinational enterprises from developing countries.  Through Bravura’s African mandates, we are seeing first-hand a host of clients that are adopting a long-term strategic view combined with a creative approach in realising Africa’s investment potential.”