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Bpifrance commits to Franco-Tunisian fund

The Fonds de Co-Localisation Franco Tunisien has held a €20m first close and will back Tunisian and French SMEs including agri and food businesses.

Bpifrance, the French state investor, and a Tunisian equivalent, Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations Tunisienne, have funded a €20 million first close for a fund that will seek to develop companies, including agri and food companies, in both countries.

AfricInvest, a pan-African small- and medium-enterprise (SME) focused private equity firm, has teamed up with French mid-market private equity firm Siparex to create the Fonds de Co-Localisation Franco-Tunisien (FCFT), which has a 10-year lifespan.

The fund, which will be co-managed by Siparex and AfricInvest, will finance Tunisian and French SMEs with high growth potential to develop their activities in both countries. It will target business managed by leaders with an “innovative approach” which are looking for funding and international support, and have the ability to develop or strengthen links with Tunisian and French partners.

The fund has several preferred investment sectors: agri-food industries; information and communications technology; health, pharmaceutical and education; manufacturing, mechanical and electronic industries; transport and logistics; tourism and recreation; and renewable energy and cleantech.

AfricInvest, which had around $1 billion in assets under management across 15 private equity funds, is currently in market with its third fund targeting $266 million, according to the African Private Equity and Venture Capital Association. The firm’s team of 60 investment professionals operate out of seven offices in Tunis, Casablanca, Algiers, Lagos, Abidjan, Nairobi and Paris.

Siparex, which reached €1.5 billion in assets under management earlier this month, invested close to €150 million in 2015 with exit activity totalling €200 million.

Bpifrance has backed several funds managed by Cathay Capital, which specialises in cross-border investments between France and China. It has committed unspecified amount to the firm’s North American Sino-Fund, which is targeting $350,000; its €500,000 Cathay Global PE Research Fund, an initiative with Shanghai-based business school CEIBS to promote the study of PE trends, models and case studies; and its €500 million Cathay Midcap Growth Fund III, which invests in mid-market companies in France and China.