700 million people will make their home in African cities over the next decade, said DPI’s Marc Stoneham

Broad Sky invests in communications and public affairs firm BPI.

Good morning, Hubsters. MK Flynn here with today’s Wire.

We’re hearing more and more about VC and PE deals involving Africa, and we’ve got an interview today that shares some insights on why.

Also, earlier this morning, we had a scoop on another investment in a strategic communications company.

Let’s get right into those stories.

African urbanization
“We are seeing one of the fastest chapters of urbanization, probably, in human history,” Marc Stoneham, a partner at Development Partners International (DPI) told PE Hub Europe’s Craig McGlashan. “Approximately 700 million people will make their home in African cities over the next decade.”

Based in London, DPI is an Africa-focused private investment firm with more than $3 billion in AUM.

Earlier in April, the firm acquired Solevo Group, a Geneva-headquartered distribution platform of specialty chemicals for Africa from Helios Investment Partners. The overall value of the deal was reportedly $250 million, which includes some debt funding.

“The major markets of the continent are at an inflection point in terms of electrification, literacy, and the investment capacity required for industrialization,” Stoneham said. “A very large number of people are moving into the middle class.”

As the middle class expands and urbanization grows, people increasingly adopt urban lifestyles, shopping in the formal retail sector, adopting urban eating habits and building houses, Stoneham explained. That means the specialty chemicals can thrive across agriculture, food and nutrition, water treatment, packaging and more.

“Let’s say I’m a water treatment business,” he said. “I need a partner who really understands the range of products that are available to enable me to meet my objectives. Someone who can tailor the supply chain solution, give me the volume I need when I need it and give me the onsite tech assistance I need.”

DPI has high hopes for Solevo.

Stoneham said:
“Given the nature of this business – a multi-country platform with a very large proportion of its revenues in currencies that are pegged to the euro, riding very long-term attractive trends, with a very high-quality institutional management team and governance – this would be a very strong candidate for an IPO when the time comes or some of the largest players in the specialty chemicals space.”

Interest from venture capital and private equity firms is growing, and PE Hub is on the lookout for more deals in the region.

If you’re investing in Africa, I’d love to hear about it. Email me at mk.flynn@peimedia.com.

It’s more important than ever for a company to communicate effectively in real time, especially when you consider that its reputation can be made or broken at lightning speed, thanks to social media and nonstop news. As demand for strategic communications grows, organizations are turning to specialized agencies, and PE firms are quickly snatching them up.

Earlier this morning, New York PE firm Broad Sky Partners announced a significant investment in Bully Pulpit Interactive (BPI), a Washington DC-based organization that focuses on the “persuasion business,” including strategic communications and public affairs. Broad Sky bought the stake from Svoboda Capital Partners, which remains a minority investor.

The deal follows KKR‘s announcement earlier in April that it would make a growth investment in FGS Global, a global strategic advisory and communications consultancy based in New York.

PE Hub’s Obey Martin Manayiti was the first to report Broad Sky’s deal.

Obey caught up with Evan Azus, a principal and a member of the deal team at Broad Sky, and Andrew Bleeker, the president of BPI, to discuss what’s driving growth in the sector.

“C-suites across all industries are faced with increasingly complex communication demands, as they’re being asked to engage with more stakeholders across more channels,” Azus said, adding that Broad Sky has been exploring the sector since 2021.
Dealing with the fast-paced complexity of the world is putting pressure on organizations, particularly businesses. “They are required to be leaders in many topics that are not their core business, and they are being held accountable by many stakeholders beyond customers,” Bleeker said.

With high-profile strategists and communication experts, Bleeker said BPI is well-positioned to help large organizations not just battle, “but lead through it and win around the world and in the marketplace.”

These experts range from former White House press secretaries, former presidential pollsters, former corporate chief spokespeople, and more. Recently, BPI brought aboard former Biden Administration speechwriter Jeff Nussbaum as a partner, and he will help spearhead the launch of BPI’s next-generation executive communications practice.
Other partners include Bradley Akubuiro, a former chief spokesperson and head of global media relations at Boeing; and Robert Gibbs, the former global chief communications officer at McDonald’s.

What’s going to shape BPI’s growth is the desire to find and add more best-in-class communications professionals who will embrace the organization’s people-first culture. Growth will be driven by acquisitions, expanding geographic scope and service areas, Azus told Obey.

Speaking of Obey … he’ll be back with you tomorrow for Friday’s Wire.

And I’ll “see” you Monday.

Until then, happy dealmaking,