The listing of Société d’Articles Hygiéniques (SAH), on the Tunis Stock Exchange yesterday (9 Jan) after a private placement and an oversubscribed initial public offer (IPO) is the largest listing on the Tunis bourse (Bourse de Tunis), with the company valued at TND 270.5 million ($163.5m). It is a successful exit for leading African private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners which scored a cash multiple of 2.4x on exiting the investment.
The private placement for 90% of the shares attracted 85 local and international investors, signalling a return by international investors to the Tunisian capital market. The public offer in the Tunisian IPO was over-subscribed 22.1 times, according to a press release. Adel Grar, Chairman of the Tunisian Brokerage House Association, said: “The IPO of SAH is a milestone.. it demonstrates the ability for a local or foreign investor to exit through the Tunis Stock Exchange.”
SAH (www.lilasbebe.com.tn) is Tunisia’s leading manufacturer of feminine and baby hygiene products and operates under the “Lilas” brand. ECP has invested since 2008 and, according to the announcement, “has supported SAH as it increased its customer base to 17 countries across North and sub-Saharan Africa, created subsidiaries in Algeria and Libya, and developed a paper mill factory in Tunisia.” Products include baby diapers, feminine-care pads, disposable diapers, bathroom and facial tissues, kitchen towels, hand towels and tissue wipes.
“Over the last 2 years, SAH has grown at 17% per year, despite a difficult economic climate – testament to its focus on product innovation, diversification and locally produced, high quality offerings. SAH’s sales are expected to exceed TND 200m ($120m) in 2013 and the company currently employs over 2,000 people.” According to a 2011 profile in The Africa Report, also on the ECP website , SAH was founded in 1995 by wife and husband team Jalila Mezni and Mounir el Jaiez.
The sale was of 14,176,590 shares, representing 48.99% of the capital at listing and the fixed offer price of TND 9.35 per share.
Nayel Georges Vidal, Director in the Tunis office at ECP, said in the press release: “Under the guidance of Ms Jalila Mezni, the company has worked hard to more than double its performance over the last 5 years. With ECP’s support, SAH has expanded its production capacity, brought new products to market, expanded beyond Tunisia, and built a strong customer brand – all made possible by its employees’ dedication to improving its systems, governance and product range. We firmly believe that SAH will continue to create further value for its shareholders – which include many foreign investors showing renewed interest in the Tunisian stock market.”
Private equity firm ECP was founded in 2000 and has raised more than US$2bn for growth capital investing in Africa. It was one of the first firms dedicated to Africa and has investments in more than 50 African companies through 7 funds. It boasts “more people on the ground than any other firm” with more than 70% of its investment professionals, who hail from 12 African countries, in 7 local offices.
Its private equity investments include financial services, telecommunications, retail and consumer, natural resources, agriculture and infrastructure in over 40 African countries. In 2013 Africa AM magazine was awarded ECP as “PE Fund of the Year”. Private Equity Africa awarded it for mid-cap “PE Deal of the Year” as reported here, for investment in casual dining chain, Nairobi Java House.