* Fund will look for production opportunities in Africa
* Demographics, natural resources make Africa attractive
By Martin de Sa’Pinto
ZURICH, Aug 29 (Reuters Life!) - Bob Geldof, the former Boomtown Rats singer and Live Aid front man, said a private equity fund he agreed to front last year to invest in Africa was nearing its first close, having raised nearly $200 million.
Geldof helped organise the 1985 Live Aid concert, which reached an estimated 1.5 billion people and did much to raise the profile of those suffering from poverty, starvation and disease in Africa.
Geldof said the private equity fund, called 8 Miles, which represents the shortest distance between Europe and North Africa, had attracted increasing attention because of what he called an existential fiscal crisis in the euro zone.
“It’s all about globalisation. Without Africa, this whole game stops,” Geldof told delegates at a Julius Baer investor conference in Zurich, focusing on growth. “Last month, of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, six were African.”
Private equity funds often close to new investors as they deploy the money already gathered, because holding on to large amounts of idle cash while they choose their investments can create a drag on performance.
Geldof said he agreed to help raise money for the fund late last year after discussions with Phillip Pritchard, Chief Executive of CLSA, an Asian brokerage and investment company arm formerly called Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia.
He said that while Africa was currently seeing huge investment from China and other nations anxious to access its raw materials, the continent had the chance to become a productive global powerhouse.
“Currently 80 percent of exports from Africa are unprocessed raw materials. There’s your opportunity: they need manufacturing,” Geldof said.
“We need their brains and their muscle power, because we’re growing older,” he said, adding that by 2020, Africa will have a larger young working population than China or India.
“They are connected (to the global economy) now and cannot be disconnected,” he said. (Reporting by Martin de Sa’Pinto; Editing by Will Waterman)