Laurasia backs $200m social impact platform in Africa

The alternative assets venture capital firm headed by Robert Zulkoski has backed a private equity real estate firm aiming to partner with corporations looking to conform with South Africa’s black empowerment legislation.

Laurasia Capital Management, the Singapore-based alternative assets venture capital firm headed by Robert Zulkoski, has made its first investment in Africa.

The former Asia head of Oaktree Capital Management formed Laurasia in the spring of 2012 with a view to making company level investments in firms focused on real estate, clean technology and special situations. Capitalized by high-net-worth individual investors, the firm started with investments in a Japan real estate business and a Southeast Asia clean technology business.

Now, it has made a third investment into Talana Capital Management (TCM), a South African fund management platform that just launched a private equity real estate fund aimed at making property investments that involve vendors or tenants looking to adhere to South Africa’s black empowerment legislation. This third investment brings the amount of equity that Laurasia has committed to platforms to $10 million. 

Zulkoski told PERE: “My partners and I have become investors/active in a new exciting real estate platform in South Africa, which has a social impact priority on top of the compelling investment thesis.”

After backing TCM, Zulkoski has assumed a role on the investment committee of its fund, the Talana Impact Fund, for which TCM hopes to raise an initial $75 million from domestic and international institutions by the end of the second quarter. Ultimately, it hopes to bring in $200 million of equity commitments for the seven-year vehicle.

TCM, which is led by former Investec senior executives Wouter de Vos and William George, is expected to acquire stakes in income-producing real estate across South Africa. The investments held in the Talana Impact Fund are expected to generate an approximately 18 percent IRR and a 2.3x equity multiple. Assuming it hits its targets, TCM management intends to split carried interest earned from deals with the Columba Leadership, a South African charity that supports social upwards mobility for the country’s majority black population, particularly in areas of education.

Given the fund’s black empowerment credentials, corporate counterparties in deals involving the Talana Impact Fund would be able to improve their Black Empowerment Enterprise score card, a government initiative aimed at incentivizing companies to empower more black people in areas of business. 

de Vos said: “This offers a unique scenario where everyone wins. Investors receive strong financial and social returns, and the fund’s broad-based black beneficiary receives annuity income to facilitate its expansion and impact on the lives of disadvantaged children.”