The board of directors of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (Opic) has approved US$50mn in financing to support the establishment of a new private equity investment fund that could ultimately invest as much as US$200mn in growing businesses throughout sub-Saharan Africa.

The Opic loan will support the Sub-Saharan Africa Fund, whose investment strategy will centre on the development of high growth potential start-up opportunities, as well as larger buy-out opportunities.

The fund will focus on the West African region, with an emphasis on Nigeria, but also on opportunities within countries of the Southern Africa Development Community. The fund has a target capitalisation of US$200mn.

The fund manager, Helios Investment Partners, will then institutionalise the businesses it invests in, by recruiting high-level management talent, developing financial controls, and spearheading strategies for entry into other African markets.

The fund is expected to generate more than US$12mn in annual tax revenue for host-country governments, as well as 1,800 permanent local jobs and more than US$800mn in procurement in host countries.

Helios was also selected in 2004 to manage the sub-Saharan portfolio of the Opic-supported Modern Africa Growth Fund, along with Baring Private Equity Partners.