Nigerian beverage company secures $50m investment

AJEAST Nigeria Limited has secured an investment in excess of $50 million from Duet Private Equity Limited(DPEL), a principal investor in emerging and frontier markets. The beverage maker, which is the Sub-Saharan Africa subsidiary of AJE Group, one of the largest global multinational beverage companies will use a significant share of the investment as growth capital. The investment gives DPEL majority stake in the company.

“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,” said Angel Añaños, Chairman of AJE Group.

AJE, whose history dates to 1988 had lent its influence in Latin-American and Asian markets to an innovative approach and passion. The group formally launched in Nigeria, with brands such as BIG Cola, BIG Orange and BIG Lemon. Although the carbonated beverage market is still dominated by Coca Cola and Pepsi, BIG Cola has remained a threat, serving as a much needed pricing check. Coca Cola had to start producing 35cl bottles to remain competitive as it had to raise the price of its 50cl bottles in Nigeria.

The company claims its continued growth in the competitive market is due to its time-tested marketing strategies and a strong value proposition. It said its target is the young demography of growing socio-economic segments, capturing both the significant advance of middle-income households, as well as the demographic dividend of the country’s expansive youth base.

AJEAST Nigeria will also be distributing brands from AJE Group in other parts of Africa.

Henry Gabay, CIO at Duet Private Equity Limited and Co-Founder at Duet Group expressed belief in the African consumer growth story.

“As the number of middle-income households in Nigeria and select West-African markets keeps expanding, and more consumers are entering the formal economy through urbanisation, the demand for products such as BIG Cola will grow exponentially,” said Gabay. “The acquisition of AJEAST follows our previous investments in the beverage sector across Africa, and we are excited to be able to leverage our experience in partnership with a prominent multinational like AJE Group.”