UK firm Duet invests US$50m for a majority stake in Ajeast Nigeria

NIGERIA – UK based private equity firm Duet Private Equity (DPEL) has invested over US$50 million in AJEAST Nigeria Ltd, a Sub-Saharan Africa subsidiary of AJE Group, a multinational beverage company.

According to the group, a significant share of the investment was allocated as growth capital and will aid in expanding its presence in Nigeria.

AJE Group formally launched the Company in October 2015 with a brand new, state of the art factory near Lagos, Nigeria.

Over the years, it has gained a significant market share in the carbonated beverage segment through a strong brand proposition including BIG Cola, BIG Orange and BIG Lemon.

Its expansion strategy also includes distributing AJE Group brands to other parts of Africa targeting the growing socio-economic segments dominated by a stronger youth base.

Additionally, the investment will be used to accelerate in select international territories, facilitate the launch of new products and brands, and further increase volumes.

“We are delighted to work together with AJE Group in continuing the footprint expansion of brands like BIG Cola in African markets.

With its value proposition, AJEAST is uniquely positioned to capture market share in the rapidly expanding segment of affordable, high quality consumer goods.

Since entering the WestAfrican market in 2015, institutional backing of AJE Group has provided the company with strong fundamentals upon which our investment and local knowledge can further drive growth,” said Manish Rungta, Managing Director at Duet Private Equity Limited.

Commenting on the transaction, Angel Añaños, Chairman of AJE Group, said: “As AJE intends to accelerate into the next phase of growth in Africa, we were seeking a partner that has the local platform and sector expertise to support our ambitions.

With Duet, we have found a partner that shares our commitment to widen our product reach of affordable value beverages to the African consumer.

We also believe that Duet is the ideal partner to continue the growth of our brands in such a crucial market.

We are confident that our longstanding experience will help replicate the successes we have had in our markets, and look forward to a fruitful partnership with Duet.”

In 2015, AJEAST unveiled plans to US$1.38mn n Nigeria to expand its Big Cola soft drink brand.

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