Dubai-based PE firm Abraaj to buy Kenya’s Java House restaurant chain

Dubai-based private equity investor The Abraaj Group is set to acquire Kenya’s Java House Group for an undisclosed sum of money from Emerging Capital Partners (ECP).

Abraaj Managing Partner and Global Head of Private Equity Mustafa Abdel-Wadood described the takeover as a calculated move to expand Java’s well-known culture and products across East Africa and beyond.

“This landmark transaction is a compelling opportunity to build on Java House’s success story across sub-Saharan Africa to create a true regional champion.

“The rapidly expanding middle class and increasing urbanisation trend creates compelling investment opportunities in multiple sectors, and we believe Java House is ideally positioned to benefit from these trends,” he said.

ECP’s founding partner and the firm’s country leader, Bryce Fort, hailed the deal, saying he and Java founder Kevin Ashley had grown the business from one location to 13 across Kenya and into East Africa, where they operate 60 outlets.

READ: Java to enter Eldoret and Kericho in the next two months

Java House Chief Executive Officer Ken Kuguru welcomed the new development, saying it would give Kenyan-trained baristas and chefs an opportunity to work elsewhere as the group expands the business across Africa.

Established in 1999

Java House Group was established in Nairobi in 1999 by Mr Ashley, who later sold a controlling stake to ECP in 2012, thereby raising fresh capital to boost the Java brand’s presence from 13 shops in Nairobi to the current 60 stores across 10 cities in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Java boasts three flagship brands: Java House (a coffee specialty service), Planet Yogurt (East Africa’s first self-service frozen yoghurt chain) and 360 Degrees Artisan Pizza, an upmarket Italian pizzeria concept.

Java House also operates commercial coffee roasters providing quality coffee and bean sales to its own stores and to supermarkets, hotels, restaurants and wholesale buyers.

READ: GITHINJI: Kenyan entrepreneurs must be open to private equity

Java House currently serves about 320,000 guest checks per month and has 2,000 workers.

Abraaj has injected Sh320 billion in 80 transactions across Africa, among them Brookside Dairies, where it owns a 10 per cent stake.

The transaction midwifed by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP and Bowmans Kenya law firms saw PwC act as financial and tax advisers for Abraaj.

The transaction will close once customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals are obtained.

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