Fund manager Scipion Capital has announced the launch next month of what is billed as the first pan-African hedge fund, established in response to rising confidence and investor interest in the continent at a time when most emerging market funds have little or no exposure to Africa.

The Scipion African Opportunities Fund, which is being launched on July 1 with USD100m in seed capital, is domiciled in London and Geneva and administered by Bisys. It is a segregated portfolio structure combining structured trade finance opportunities in Class A and African equities and pre-IPO opportunities in Class S. Both share classes will offer quarterly redemption, Class A with 90 days' notice and Class S with 180 days' notice.

The fund will also include the Scipion-Ai40 Index Share Tracker class, pegged to the Ai Index Series produced by investment research and publishing group African Investor. It is designed to offer investors access to the Ai40 index, which comprises African companies with a combined market capitalisation of more than USD250bn.

The Scipion-Ai40 Index Share Tracker, which offers Class I shares, will diversify beyond South Africa into high-yielding markets in north, south, east and west Africa such as Egypt, Morocco and Nigeria. The Ai40 rose by 18.2 per cent in the first quarter of this year.

Says Scipion Capital chairman Nicolas Clavel: 'While working as a fund manager in Africa, we noticed the quiet rise in confidence among global investors looking to gain exposure to Africa as a continent, and explore its lesser-known corners.

'Research and news from organisations such as Africa Investor has provided the data to evaluate the opportunities and assess the market trends that previously was only easily accessible for markets such as South Africa.'

Clavel says that macroeconomic prospects for Africa are excellent, with growth forecast at 5.5 per cent per annum for the continent as a whole amid improved economic planning, loosened exchange controls, pension market reforms, greater fiscal discipline, commitment to improve the investment climate, strong commodity prices and significant Chinese and G8 economic commitments

As investment manager of the fund, Scipion Capital says it will donate 5 per cent of its performance fee to provide microfinance for women and scholarships for bright students in African universities.


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