Gulf Capital, one of the largest and most active alternative asset management firms in the Middle East, and AfricInvest, a pan-African mid-cap-focused private equity firm, have partnered for the first time to provide a US$ 51 million structured loan and equity investment to iSON Xperiences, one of the largest outsourcing and customer experience partner/delivery partner operating in 14 countries in Africa and in India.
Gulf Credit Opportunities Fund II, Gulf Capitals’ second private debt fund, and AfricInvest Fund III, the firm’s third generation pan-African fund, provided a total debt and equity commitment of US$ 25.5 million each. Proceeds from the co-investment will be used for growth and working capital, as well as for acquiring shares from a minority investor.
iSON Xperiences is the largest customer experience partner / delivery partner in Sub-Saharan Africa, accounting for an estimated 75% of the market, excluding South Africa. The company’s operations serve 425 million telecom end-users through 27 call centres in 13 Sub-Saharan countries, South Africa and India. Today iSON Xperiences is a valued partner and consultant for clients looking to remain ahead of the customer experience management curve, in a dynamic global environment.
Founded in 2010, iSON Xperiences (formerly iSON BPO) launched its operations in six countries in Africa including Kenya, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger and Nigeria and in India with a focus on offering call centre services to the telecommunication sector. The company rapidly expanded and transformed its business to offer related outsourced experience services and technology solutions for the banking and insurance (BFSI), retail, travel and hospitality, media and entertainment, aviation, and e-commerce sectors in addition to the telecommunication industry.
Dr. Karim El Solh, Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Capital, said: “iSON Xperiences is another success story in Africa that we are delighted to support through this co-investment with AfricInvest. Our private debt solutions remain a flexible financing instrument for market leaders who are looking for growth and working capital to implement their next phase strategy. We commend iSON on its sharp focus on delivering superior customer experience to the end customer for all its clients. This is Gulf Capital’s second investment in Sub-Saharan Africa over the last year, and we look forward to expanding our franchise across the region.”
Adam Hadidi, Managing Director Private Debt at Gulf Capital, commented: “iSON Xperiences is an inspiring example of how a company can grow from a single country, single sector provider to achieve impressive growth across markets and sectors. Very early on, iSON graduated from being a call center services provider to an end-to-end customer experience partner, thus providing a seamless experience to the end customer. The management team has a clear vision and a proven track record of building first-class operations. We are pleased to be partnering with AfricInvest to support iSON in its growth journey.”
Hakim Khelifa, Executive Partner of AfricInvest added: “The BPO industry is an important sector for the continent of Africa, providing many opportunities for employment. AfricInvest has considerable experience investing in outsourcing companies and recognises the significant opportunities that lie ahead for iSON Xperiences. As the leading customer experience delivery partner in sub-Saharan Africa, the company is well placed to continue its geographic expansion as well as to benefit from the implementation of innovative digital strategies. We believe the iSON edge lies in going the extra mile for every client and providing a seamless experience to their end customer. We look forward to partnering with Gulf Capital as together we accompany iSON Xperiences on this exciting path.”
Ramesh Awtaney, Founder and Chairman of iSON Group, said: “At iSON, as we continue to transform ourselves to provide our clients solutions for complete Digital Customer Experience Management covering both processes and technology, we are excited to welcome our new investment partners Gulf Capital and Africinvest. They bring with them deep industry and geography knowledge. We are confident that with this fresh investment, we are now on an accelerated trajectory to be the largest Customer Experience Partner company in emerging markets. We remain committed to rapid innovation and enabling business transformations in emerging markets, so as to ultimately deliver on our vision.”
The deal marks the sixth investment for Gulf Capital from its US $251 million second debt fund and is the second for the company in Sub-Saharan Africa. With this commitment in iSON, Gulf Credit Opportunities Fund II is now 52% invested. It is the 10th investment for the US$273 million AfricInvest fund III that is now more than 80% deployed.
Gulf Capital is an alternative asset management firms in the Middle East, investing across several asset classes including Private Equity, Private Debt and Real Estate. The Firm currently manages over US$4 billion of assets across 10 funds and investment vehicles. Gulf Capital’s mission is to grow capital and build value with expertise and best practices to generate sustainable superior performance for all stakeholders. It invests its own capital alongside its fund investors’ capital in all of the funds it launches. In addition to Private Equity, the company has also launched a Private Debt business, Gulf Credit Partners, which offers credit and mezzanine financing to meet the funding needs of fast-growing companies and to provide acquisition finance across the Middle East, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as Turkey.
AfricInvest is among the private equity firms in Africa with over 1 billion euros of assets under management across 18 private equity funds. Founded 24 years ago, AfricInvest has deployed capital in 25 countries across its portfolio companies. Operating out of seven offices in Africa (Abidjan, Algiers, Cairo, Casablanca, Lagos, Nairobi, and Tunis) and one in Paris, AfricInvest invests in leading African enterprises that have regional and continental growth aspirations, especially in the financial sector where AfricInvest relies on dedicated investment vehicles and a dedicated investment team that delivers expertise and focus on improving business processes and charting new growth initiatives.
iSON Xperiences, recognized for Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership in West Africa by Frost and Sullivan and Great Place to Work for Best Practices and CSR, is the largest customer experience partner with 14,500 employees across 14 countries in Africa and in India serving 425 million global customers. A specialist in proactive customer engagement and customer experience management, iSON has partnered with leading brands in Telecom, BFSI, Aviation, e-commerce, retail and energy and utilities and media and entertainment to optimize their customer experience, revenue generation and business process management across the enterprise. In less than a decade, the firm has grown into a global business, developing the expertise to manage end-to-end customer experience management through its 27 Green field and modern contact centres worldwide.