Picture: Denis Farrell / AP

CAPE TOWN - Global professional services firm Aon has confirmed that it had transferred its shareholding across certain sub-Saharan operations to private equity firm CapitalWorks last week. 

Aon yesterday said that conditions for the transaction that would affect Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia had been fulfilled. 

It said the sale of its businesses in Angola, Mozambique, Swaziland and Tanzania is still awaiting regulatory approval and expected to conclude early next year(2018). 

The company said the would give it one of the most comprehensive correspondent networks on the continent that would be backed by an African-owned company. 

The new entity, Minet Group, will have the benefit of consistency in leadership and staffing, with Joe Onsando, currently chief executive of Aon sub-Saharan Africa, leading existing teams in all countries.

Chief executive of Aon South Africa, Terence Williams, said: “Aon is delighted to partner with Minet as our global network correspondent on the continent. Capitalworks brings a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance and a solid track record in the Africa region. 

Aon brings our expansive global network, deep industry insights and analytics and together, we’re able to empower results for our clients by delivering global capabilities, locally.”

He said the transaction affirmed Aon’s commitment to helping clients reduce volatility and find opportunities to improve performance using insights derived from data and analytics.

Aon said its employees in the affected countries as well as key senior leadership, who had extensive industry experience and knowledge of its clients’ operations, would remain part of the operations that CapitalWorks was acquiring, ensuring leadership, continuity and stability for clients and colleagues.

Onsando said the conclusion of this transaction marked a historic milestone for Africa. “Our industry finally has its own Pan-African player with a diverse African footprint, owned and led by Africans.

“The time has come for our African team to take the business through a new growth trajectory. This is the beginning of yet another exciting chapter in our business. It is an affirmation of the tireless efforts they have put into building and growing the company over the past 70 years.”

With a growing consumer market and a population that has surpassed 1.2 billion, Africa is now one of the fastest growing regions in the world. 

According to The African Economic Outlook – co-authored by the African Development Bank, the OECD and the UN Development Programme, the continent’s economy is set to grow by 3.4% this year(2017) and 4.3% next year(2018), from an estimated 2.2% last year (2016). 

The growth is expected to be buoyed by a sustained recovery in commodity prices, a recovering global economy and the return of risk appetite among global investors.

Onsando said Minet was poised to benefit from Africa’s growth and that the company would embrace new technology and innovation to expand its footprint on the continent.

John Cullen, chief executive of Aon Risk Solutions in EMEA said: “With Capitalworks we’ve chosen to partner with an investor with a sound understanding of local market conditions, strong governance and operational experience. 

“The combination of CapitalWorks’ track record in the region, backed by Aon’s global expertise, leverage and economies of scale will bring clear benefits for our clients.”

Minet Group’s Chairperson, and Principal at Capitalworks, Garth Willis, expressed excitement about “investing in a world-class operation which is one of the leading players in Africa”. 

“We will be working alongside management to build on the Aon heritage as a trusted partner to clients in protecting the future of their people and assets in Africa,” he said.