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Brazil’s BTG Pactual launches big Africa investment fund

The President of the Brazilian Development Bank Luciano Coutinho (R) and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (© 2009 AFP)

Brazil’s leading investment bank Banco BTG Pactual on Thursday launched a $1 billion Africa investment fund, the biggest in the world, with capital collected in the country.

“It will be the biggest fund in Brazil with a special focus on the African continent,” BTG Pactual president Andre Esteves said at a seminar here on investment opportunities in Africa sponsored by the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES).

“The creation of this ‘private equity’ is a demonstration of the enormous confidence and affinity Brazil has with this region of the world.”

The announcement drew cheers from seminar participants — including Brazilian ministers and corporate leaders, African ambassadors and former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“This announcement is extremely important,” said Carlos Lopes, the executive director of the UN Institute for Training and Research who has been named as the next executive secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa.

“That the biggest investment fund for Africa is created by Brazil is beneficial, courageous and shows a recognition of risk,” added Lopes, of Guinea-Bissau.

He noted that the biggest Africa development fund so far was Helios with $900 million.

Esteves highlighted Africa’s good macro-economic fundamentals, including a public debt reduced from 90 percent to 59 percent of GDP and inflation averaging eight percent.

“We are at a point where we feel comfortable about expanding investment in Africa,” he said, saying the money would go into infrastructure, energy and agriculture.

Esteves, a 43-year-old billionaire with an estimated net worth of $3 billion, has turned BTG Pactual into the country’s top investment bank, with over $61 billion in its asset management group and $21 billion in its wealth management unit.

Last week, BTG Pactual made its debut on the Sao Paulo stock exchange after an initial public offering that raised 3.656 billion real ($1.92 billion) through the sale of 117 million units.

Signature : RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP)

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