Renaissance CEO Jennings Sees `Majority' of Business in Africa in 2 Years

Renaissance Group, the parent company of the Russian brokerage half-owned by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, may do “the majority” of its business in Africa within two years, Chief Executive Officer Stephen Jennings said.

African nations, spurred by Chinese demand for their natural resources, are likely to become the fastest growing in the world in the wake of the financial crisis, Jennings said today. The company does about a quarter of its business in Africa now, he said.

“Europe as a whole, the West as a whole, is on the back foot,” Jennings said in an interview in London. “It’s less dynamic. We’re going through this big leveling-out process. Africa will be the biggest beneficiary.”

Renaissance is based in Moscow and has operations in countries including Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It last year participated in 18 transactions across 10 African countries, including the $955 million sale of Central African Mining & Exploration Co.

Renaissance owns “very large land holdings” in Africa and is building a city near Nairobi, Jennings said. It’s also the largest shareholder in Togo-based Ecobank Transnational Inc., he said. The Moscow-based company is opening an office in Hong Kong, Jennings said.

“China can become to Africa what America has been to China -- a market for its output and a source of capital and knowhow,” Jennings said earlier in an African investment conference organized by his company.

Jennings sees opportunities as financial services grow in emerging markets.

“The whole global financial plumbing has to be rebuilt because the big capital flows will be within emerging markets,” he said. London will “play a significantly diminished role.”

Prokhorov, owner of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, is an “extremely supportive” investor, Jennings said. “He’s involved in strategy, and he’s involved in governance.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Simon Clark in London at sclark4@bloomberg.net

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