Ex-Standard Bank Team Form London Boutique on Africa Finance

Jan 20, 2014 11:25 am ET

(Updates with managing partner comment in seventh paragraph.)

Jan. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Five former employees of Standard Bank Group Ltd., Africa’s biggest lender, have formed a London- based advisory firm to arrange financing for companies and projects across the continent.

Alkebulan Ltd., which derives from the ancient pre-Roman name for Africa, will focus on Nigeria, the continent’s biggest oil producer, Managing Partner Andre van der Spuy, who spent 12 years as part of Standard Bank’s investment banking team, said in a phone interview from London on Jan. 17.

The firm’s other partners are Jonty Levin, who worked on the Johannesburg-based bank’s structured finance team, focusing on emerging markets; Sylma du Plessis, who headed its high-yield financing unit; Julian Rennie and Leigh Hall.

“We believe we can use financial structuring techniques to help African companies access the right type of capital,” Van der Spuy said. “We’re focusing on Nigeria. We’ve got about 20 or 25 deals we’re working on right now and some of them are in countries like Senegal, South Africa and Sierra Leone.”

Alkebulan, which opened in September, has a partnership with consultancy africapractice with offices in six African countries. The firm is joining banks, including Barclays Plc’s African unit, Citigroup Inc. and Standard Chartered Plc, in tapping African growth rates that exceed those of many developed countries.

Job Cuts

Alkebulan will probably take on another four people and may have some staff based in Africa by the end of this year, Van der Spuy said.

“We will always need a London or New York presence for access to capital,” he said. “For the first two years we’ll be finding our rhythm and then there should be a takeoff.”

In 2012, Standard lost a number of senior investment bankers, including Kennedy Bungane, Richard Gush and Rob Leith, following a restructuring of the unit after the global financial crisis which also resulted in some job cuts. Van der Spuy left in January of that year.

--Editors: Dylan Griffiths, Frank Connelly