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Financial services group to focus on Africa by establishing a presence in South Africa

Lightcone CIO and Anolawave director Reggie Yau and seasoned mining engineer Ralph Bagirathi speak to Creamer Media at this year's Mining Indaba.

20th February 2023

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

     

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With an abundance of untapped investment potential throughout Africa, financial services company Anolawave has established a presence in South Africa, co-founded by Lightcone Asset Management Limited, seasoned mining engineer Ralph Bagirathi and applied economist Dr Julian Naidoo.

South Africa-based Anolawave is an affiliate of Hong Kong-headquartered multi-asset investment manager and adviser Lightcone Asset Management Limited. Anolawave obtained an approval from the Financial Sector Conduct Authority to operate as a Category I and II financial services provider in 2021.

Bagirathi has senior management experience at various multinational mining corporations, while Naidoo brings leadership exposure in major private, public and inter-governmental entities.

Lightcone CIO and Anolawave director Reggie Yau says the firm has a broad mandate on greater China and emerging market investments, which includes South Africa. “We like South Africa because of its huge growth prospects as a member of the Brics [Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa] countries and its role in the global supply of commodities.”

DEMAND FOR MINES AND LONG-TERM AND CREDIBLE SUPPLY OF COMMODITIES

Lightcone and Anolawave are active in the mining industry in various aspects. In addition to investment in mines which are preferably in production stage, they are long-term buyers of commodities including gold, chrome, manganese, iron-ore, coking coal and bauxite on a trade basis.

“At [the Investing in African Mining] Indaba, [held in Cape Town, South Africa], we are looking for long-term and credible suppliers.

“While we were pleased that we had some very promising conversations since the first day of the Indaba, we hope that we can continue to interact with more suppliers and make this business bigger.

“We have relationships with Tier 1 banks to provide the necessary comfort to suppliers,” says Bagirathi.

DEAL FLOWS FROM AFRICA TO HONG KONG

Yau says the combination of Lightcone and Anolawave is an integrated financial platform where deal flows originating in Africa can be professionally assessed, structured, executed and assured as regulatorily compliant in both Hong Kong and South Africa.

By maintaining a high standard of professionalism, he says they earn additional trust from their clients and business partners, enabling the companies to pool and channel more resources into bankable projects.

TURNKEY SOLUTIONS ON MINING INFRASTRUCTURE 

Bagirathi notes that successful mining projects are dependent on good infrastructure.

“On a project infrastructure basis, many mines are now setting up and procuring electricity from independent power generation facilities. In this area, we can provide a turnkey solution for renewable power generation and storage to mines.

“With our resources and technical partnerships in mainland China, we are able to select and provide Tier 1 equipment and engineering, procurement and construction [EPC] contractors for the project, no matter how small or how big the project is.

“We are also able to facilitate the introduction of other disciplines of engineering to mining projects where required,” he says.

As a turnkey solutions provider, Bagirathi says they understand the objectives, resources available and constraints from the project owners or sponsors.

With this information in hand, the companies can then identify the most suitable EPC contractors, which have the scale, expertise and experience for carrying out the work of design, installation, commissioning, as well as operation and maintenance of the facilities.

INNOVATIVE FINANCING OPTIONS FOR PROJECTS

“To support the project, we can provide both equity and debt financing. The ratio of our equity ownership is negotiable.

“We will also provide the project with all the necessary compliance criteria dependent on the jurisdiction the project is in,” he says.

Lightcone and Anolawave are looking at projects of a value of at least $50-million, but Yau says they can review, on a case-by-case basis, any project to determine the suitability thereof.

“For exceptionally large projects, we can structure syndicated loans. So we are indeed quite flexible on the size of projects,” he states.

He says the group comprises non-bank financial institutions, and highlights that they have a more flexible risk appetite and higher efficiency than banks.

“We provide feedback to project owners or sponsors in an efficient manner. If full data room is available, we can make a preliminary assessment and provide feedback in as short as one to two days.”

OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THE MINING INDUSTRY 

Bagirathi explains that, owing to a host of reasons, these untapped investment opportunities have yet to be developed.

“As mining has been the backbone of many African economies, mining should be a source of social and economic stability.

“We as an industry also need to understand the local cultural and global sensitivities that our industry operates in,” says Bagirathi.

However, he says they have interacted with different stakeholders in the industry over the last few days of the Indaba, and that the company has been able to determine that the momentum to develop new projects is increasing. They are optimistic about the future of the mining industry.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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