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Private equity firm ECP targets east Africa

Africa-focused private equity firm Emerging Capital Partners is planning to deploy a "significant amount" of capital in fast-growing east Africa and plans to open an office in Kenya later this year, a senior executive said on Tuesday.

Alex-Handra Aime, a Johannesburg-based director at the firm, also told the Reuters Africa Investment Summit that ECP would be announcing a deal in the east African consumer sector as early as next month.

"We really see Kenya leading the path, being an entry point or a gateway into the rest of east Africa, and quite a compelling one," she said in an interview at Reuters offices in Johannesburg.

"We hope to be announcing a deal in the next month or so in east Africa in the consumer space," she said.

The firm could deploy a "significant amount" of capital from its $613 million third fund in east Africa over the next 18-24 months, said Aime, a Harvard graduate who also holds a law degree and MBA from Stanford.

Private equity firms are increasingly looking for deals in Africa, with many of them focused on Nigeria, the continent's most populous country and an oil producer.

But Aime said the broader east Africa region, which includes Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda, was also attractive given its robust demographics, GDP growth and economies that were not reliant on oil to fuel their growth.

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