U.S. fund manager Pecora Capital said on Tuesday it will raise $2 billion over the next 18 months for Nigerian infrastructure projects, a rare show of investor confidence during a period of deep crisis in Africa’s largest economy.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is trying to attract foreign direct investment to help support an economy that slipped into contraction in the first quarter this year as lower oil prices hammered Africa’s largest crude exporter.
A string of attacks on oil pipelines by militants in the restive Niger Delta has compounded Nigeria’s economic problems and many investors have complained about the poor current business environment.
“As a long-term investor we see a time of crisis as an opportunity,” Aaron Smith, Managing Director of Pecora, told Reuters. He expected the fund to achieve returns of 25 percent a year over its 7-year lifespan.
A more than halving of oil prices since 2014 has sapped the supply of foreign currency in Nigeria, making it difficult for businesses to import basic equipment or for foreigners to repatriate dollars, raising the risks for investors.
Nigeria still relies on oil exports for around 90 percent of foreign exchange earnings and 70 percent of government revenues.
“I understand that is a concern and we’ve thought about it but we definitely don’t foresee over the timeframe we’ve set out that we’ll have any problems getting money out of the country,” Smith said.
“The fundamentals and demographics in Nigeria, in terms of population, in terms of infrastructure deficits, all offer huge opportunity and the availability of high returns.”
Pecora is a privately-owned firm and does not disclose its assets under management or previous performance, he said.
Smith said areas of possible investment included agriculture, telecommunications and transport as the fund hopes to take advantage of the huge demand for improved infrastructure in a country of around 190 million people.
The Nigerian fund will be based in the Cayman Islands and hopes to attract investment from the U.S., Asia and Europe.