EUROPE NEWS: Grosvenor’s African adventure

An increasing number of investors are beginning to recognize the investment opportunities to be found in Africa's emerging real estate markets. The latest is the Grosvenor Group, the London-based property investor.

Via its indirect investment team, the firm has committed $30 million to RMB Westport's second opportunistic fund, RMB Westport Real Estate Development Fund II.

“The investment in RMB Westport is a unique opportunity for Grosvenor to gain exposure to a growing market in a region that lacks high-grade office, retail and industrial space,” commented Chris Taite, Grosvenor Group investment director.

RMB Westport, the Sub-Saharan real estate investment manager, brought its second opportunistic real estate fund to the market in September 2015. The firm is aiming to raise between $450 million and $500 million for the vehicle, and recently held a first close above $200 million.

RMB Westport will develop a combination of shopping centers, office buildings and industrial assets, targeting primarily Nigeria, Ghana, Angola and the Ivory Coast for the fund.

Prior deals from RMB Westport include the development of Nigeria's largest shopping center, Ikeja City Mall. Emerging markets fund manager Actis and pan-African conglomerate Paragon Holdings originally sourced the development site in 2008 and appointed RMB Westport as the development manager that same year. RMB Westport later invested in the project as an equity partner in 2010. All three sold their stakes in the mall for an undisclosed amount in November last year.

Part of the investment rationale for Grosvenor is to take advantage of Africa's rapidly growing urban population. Grosvenor considers the developing consumer market on the continent to be underprovided, meaning that there are opportunities in the region for investment growth and strong investment returns.