Consensus Business Group launches $92 million “clean tech” fund for Southern Africa

South Africa’s first, specialised, private equity clean technology fund, Evolution One Fund, has reached its final closing after raising R700 million (US$92 million) from local and foreign investors, including development finance institutions, a family office and sovereign wealth funds. This capital is to be invested into equity in clean technology projects and enterprises including new energy and environment focused technologies in South Africa and across the Southern African Development Community. Evolution One will concentrate on long-term equity and equity-related investment based on active management and adding value after investing.

The fund will prioritise investments in expansion capital but will consider earlier-stage environmental infrastructure projects when there is clear evidence of early revenue streams and profitability. The fund will also invest into proven technology or projects that clearly demonstrate market adoption. The minimum investment size is R10 million ($1.3 million) and its maximum investment is R100 million into any one project or technology.

Consensus Business Group (www.consensusbusiness.com), the London-based advisor to The Tchenguiz Family Trust, has played a leading role in establishing and advising the fund. Consensus owns or manages 300,000 UK residential units and £4 billion of commercial properties, as well as extensive “clean tech” investments. As founding cornerstone investor, Consensus has secured the participation of 7 other leading international organisations.

Vincent Tchenguiz, Chairman of Consensus said: “We have extensive experience and a long track record in global clean technology investing and this has given our partners the confidence to join with us in setting up Evolution One in South Africa. We are delighted to have successfully achieved final closing of this ground-breaking fund.

“Evolution One Fund is the first dedicated clean technology private equity fund to be established for Africa and its value proposition is to bring Consensus’s active financial modelling and specialist insights together with expertise to projects and technology enterprises in South Africa and the SADC region. In addition, the investment capital of this network of leading investment institutions inherently leverages access to specialised knowledge and skills in the broader global clean technology sector.

“The Fund is advised by a fund management team comprising 9 principals and analysts who collectively bring their unique breadth and depth of commercial, financial and sustainability credentials. This is combined with strong black empowerment credentials and the ability to structure broad-based black economic empowerment transactions.”

Consensus is joined in the Evolution One partnership by IFC, a member of the World Bank Group; the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation (Finnfund); the Swiss Investment Fund for Emerging Markets (SIFEM); fund of funds the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund (GEEREF- www.eif.org), a compartment of the European Investment Fund; the African Development Bank (AfDB); the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund); and the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC).

The local South African fund advisor is Inspired Evolution Investment Management (IEIM – www.inspiredevolution.co.za), which aims to support and guide target invested companies and provide long-term capital growth. The Evolution One fund is a 10-year fund is committed to investing into clean technologies in the new energy and environmental sectors, including cleaner energy generation such as wind and solar energy, and energy efficiency, cleaner production and more efficient manufacturing processes, air quality and emissions control, water quality and resource management, waste management, agribusiness, natural products and materials and related services for sustainable buildings.

Michael Brooks, CEO of IEIM, says the fund management team has already appraised numerous deal opportunities and within weeks would announce details of the first 3 investments to be undertaken by the fund: “In the past 2 years we have seen significant positive shifts in the commercial thinking underpinning the roll out of clean technology projects and enterprises, both within the public and private sectors.

“The South African government’s recent adoption and implementation of the Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariffs and Co-Generation Feed-in Tariffs are evidence of the state’s support for regulatory drivers to underpin the development at scale of commercially viable renewable energy projects here and in our neighbouring countries. We are currently actively engaging with a range of promoters of clean technology enterprises and with developers of renewable energy projects.”

The first close of the fund was announced in July 2008 when $54 million had been raised from the initial 4 investors: IFC, Castleway Properties (owned by Tchenguiz Family Trust), SIFEM and FinnFund.

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