Unfazed by xenophobia, two of South Africa's richest men raise cash to invest in African infrastructure


The Johannesburg-based Pembani Remgro Infrastructure Fund will target electricity, transport and logistics projects.

PEMBANI Remgro Infrastructure Fund, founded by two of South Africa’s richest men, has raised $345 million to invest in electricity generation, transport and logistics in Africa.

The Johannesburg-based fund was established in 2012 by Johann Rupert, who has a net worth of $8.2 billion according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and Phuthuma Nhleko, who is the chairman of mobile phone company MTN Group Ltd.

The fund raised $245 million and can access a further $100 million from the US government’s Overseas Private Investment Corp., Chief Executive Officer Herc van Wyk said by phone on Monday. 

The fund plans to raise as much as $500 million for developing infrastructure on the continent, he said.

“We see interesting opportunities coming up in the infrastructure space,” van Wyk said. “The opportunity, first and foremost, is power generation.”

African countries, including the two biggest economies, Nigeria and South Africa, are beset by power shortages that limit economic growth, boost the cost of doing business and disrupt production.

Rupert is the chairman of investment company Remgro Ltd. and controls the world’s second-largest jewelry maker Richemont. 

Nhleko, who founded investment company Pembani Group, led Africa’s biggest mobile phone company MTN through it’s fastest rate of customer growth as chief executive officer, and is now chairman.

MTN operates in 17 other African countries outside its home market.

The fund has partnered with Grindrod Freight Service to form GPR Leasing South Africa, which will lease rail rolling stock in Africa, and has invested in ETG, an agribusiness logistics company, it says on its website.

Pembani Remgro is jointly owned by Remgro, Nhleko and the investment team led by van Wyk.

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