Rothschild Seeks Partners in Fast-Growing African Markets

NM Rothschild & Sons Ltd., the world’s largest family-owned financial advisory firm, is seeking partners in Africa’s largest economies to help it seize opportunities as growth accelerates.

Rothschild doesn’t intend to have African offices outside of Johannesburg, “so we either have to work from a distance and fly in and out or have partners -- we plan to do both,” Martin Kingston, its deputy executive chairman in South Africa, said in a phone interview from the city on Oct. 10.

Key markets for Rothschild include some of the continent’s fastest-growing, in Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique and Ivory Coast, Kingston said. Sub-Saharan Africa’s economic expansion is forecast at 5.8 percent next year from 5.1 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund’s latest research. Nigeria may grow 7.3 percent in 2015 while Ivory Coast may top 7.9 percent, the IMF said Oct. 7.

“There is a huge amount of money being mobilized for Africa and there’s going to be significant opportunities to provide support and advice,” Kingston said. The industries Rothschild is focusing on include financial services -- both banks and insurers -- infrastructure, telecommunications, consumer and retail, plus natural resources.

“Where we have clients that see opportunities in Africa, we’ll work with them,” Kingston said, giving Rothschild’s work with Rio Tinto Plc in Guinea and Vodacom Group Ltd. in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as examples. “Where we have particular expertise, like ratings advisory work, we will fly in and out.”

African Experience

Rothschild was recently the sole financial adviser to OCP Group of Morocco on its debut bond. It has also advised Vodacom Group Ltd. on its 7 billion rand ($630 million) acquisition of Internet provider Neotel (Pty) Ltd. in South Africa and worked with the government of Ivory Coast on its inaugural $750 million Eurobond issue.

“I think you will find that there are many more bonds coming,” Kingston said. “There is an appetite.”

Rothschild said on Sept. 30 it had hired Trevor Manuel, who was South Africa’s finance minister for 13 years, as a non-executive senior adviser globally and a non-executive deputy chairman in South Africa, to help the firm meet client needs and identify opportunities across the continent.