A UK-based private equity firm, Duet Private Equity (DPEL), has acquired a majority stake in Ajeast Nigeria Limited, a subsidiary of Peru-based AJE group.
DPEL is said to have invested over US$50 million in the acquisition and a significant share will be used to expand Ajeast’s presence in Nigeria.
Speaking on the acquisition, AJE Group Chairman, Angel Añaños said, “As AJE intends to accelerate into the next phase of growth in Africa, we were seeking a partner that has the local platform and sector expertise to support our ambitions. With Duet, we have found a partner that shares our commitment to widening our product reach of affordable value beverages to the African consumer.”
DPEL is a private equity and venture capital firm, specialising in investments in early stage, emerging growth, turnaround, growth capital, buyout, real estate and infrastructure.
AJE Group formally entered the Nigerian market in October 2015 with the launch of a brand new factory in Agbara, Ogun State.
The Nigerian soft drinks industry has experienced intense competition in recent years with the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC), makers of Coca-Cola facing stiff competition from Seven-Up Bottling Company, makers of Pepsi cola, La Casera and other new entrants such as Bigi-Cola.
The emergence of BIG Cola brand in the Nigerian market has further intensified the competition for market share and profitability. This has forced competing brands to either increase the size of their products or drop their price.
Seven-Up Bottling Company, which has battled losses for a few years as the recession caused a drop in consumer demand and competition eroded its revenue and profits, was forced to be acquired and taken private by Affelka SA, its majority shareholder.
For Coca-Cola, while its major regions grew volumes by 2.2% in 2017, Nigeria’s volume fell behind. Strong competition from other mid-size drinks has made revenue growth difficult for both leaders in the soft-drink market in the country.