Private equity and media giants from the U.S. are starting to pay attention to Africa’s burgeoning online media and culture scene.
TPG Growth, the middle market and growth equity investment arm of private equity giant TPG, and Evolution Media, the investment and advisory services firm created by Creative Artists Agency and TPG, have acquired a majority stake in the South African multimedia entertainment company, TRACE.
With 200 million viewers and listeners across 160 countries, TRACE has created a media empire in sub-Saharan Africa. The company owns and operates 30 digital and mobile services, 21 pay TV channels and seven FM radio stations.
Through more than 400 concerts, web simulcasts and talent search competitions, the company’s programming reaches viewers on the continent and throughout the world.
As part of the transaction, Millennium Technology Group, which had previously owned the company, will be selling its stake — subject to regulatory approval.
TRACE properties includes its subscription streaming service, TRACE Play, which offers live TV, radio and on-demand programming on desktop, mobile and through OTT services like Roku and Amazon Fire. The company also operates a mobile virtual network in South Africa called TRACE Mobile and, finally, TRACE has targeted television channels across Eastern and Western Africa.
“By partnering with TPG Growth, a global investor known for its ability to grow and scale businesses, we are well-positioned to build on our success and accelerate our transformation into the leading global afro-urban digital entertainment group,” said Olivier Laouchez, co-founder, chairman and CEO of TRACE.
Last year was, by most measures, one where the sub-Saharan African startup market found its stride. The world’s largest technology firms have their sights set squarely on the African market with Sundar Pichai and Mark Zuckerberg both stressing the importance of the continent to the long-term plans of their companies.
TPG itself is beginning to commit more money to Africa. Through its growth fund the firm has backed five investments across Africa, including, Gro Intelligence, a global agricultural data business; Frontier Car Group, which manages Cars45.com; and Ecoles Yassamine, a private school network in Morocco.