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Ascent beats target with $80mln in commitments for Rift Valley Fund

Ascent Capital has held the final close for the Ascent Rift Valley Fund, hitting $80 million in commitments and reaping 30% more capital for the maiden fund than it had originally planned.  The fund, which launched with $40 million in February last year, looks to invest between $2 million and $10 million in East African companies that benefit from the positive consumer spending growth patterns in the region. Its preferred sectors include services and distribution firms, as well as manufacturers.

To date, the fund has made two investments. In February this year, the fund invested $2.5 million for a reported 50% stake in MedPharm Holdings, an Ethiopian provider of medical diagnostic laboratory services. Last month the firm took an undisclosed stake in Chims Africa, the Kampala-based mobile money agency which operates a chain of 130 MTN agencies in Uganda.

Investors in the fund include the Norwegian Investment Fund for Developing Countries (Norfund), Britain’s CDC Group, Development Bank of Austria (OeEB), LGT Group and most significantly, first-time investments from local pension funds, such as Kenya Power and Lighting Company (KPLC) and Nation Media Group. The Fund Partners’ investment commitment amounts to 6% of the $80 million fund.

Ascent Capital has offices in each of the countries in which it invests, namely Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

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