Blackstone Backs Black Rhino to Invest in African Infrastructure and Power Development

New York, New YorkJuly 30, 2014.   Global asset management firm Blackstone (NYSE:BX) today announced that it has partnered with Black Rhino, an African infrastructure development company, to identify, develop, finance, construct and operate large-scale infrastructure projects across Sub-Saharan Africa with a focus on the energy sector, including power generation, transmission, fuel storage and pipelines.  

Formed in January 2012 and based in Johannesburg, South Africa, and Dakar, Senegal, Black Rhino is led by Founder and CEO Brian Herlihy, who previously founded and served as CEO of Seacom.  At Seacom, Herlihy led a $600 million submarine cable development project to connect fiber optic communications networks from Europe and Asia to 23 African countries. During his career, Herlihy has been involved in over $7 billion of project finance infrastructure development in Africa, including chemical refining, power plant, rail, port and road projects.

The Black Rhino team is comprised of developers, construction project managers and development finance experts.  The team will leverage Blackstone’s existing expertise in the energy sector, including its significant experience investing in Africa and in other emerging markets. 

“Long-term capital investment in energy is critical to Africa’s development,” said Steve Schwarzman, Blackstone’s Chairman, CEO, and Co-Founder. “Blackstone is pleased to be partnering with Brian Herlihy, Mimi Alemayehou, and the entire Black Rhino team to develop innovative projects with the power to transform economies across Africa.”

“We look forward to partnering with Black Rhino in developing energy infrastructure and power projects in Africa, where the need for investment is enormous,” said Sean Klimczak, Senior Managing Director at Blackstone. “Black Rhino has a world-class team, extensive experience and a strong track record of working together with local stakeholders, which make them an ideal partner as Blackstone looks to invest in Africa for the long term.”

“We are extremely excited to team with Blackstone,” said Brian Herlihy, Black Rhino’s Founder and CEO. “Blackstone is uniquely positioned as a leader in the greenfield energy space, having undertaken development and construction of over $25 billion of greenfield projects globally.  Moreover, they have done this in demanding environments such as Africa before.  With Blackstone as its partner, we are convinced that Black Rhino will be able to undertake truly transformational projects in the power and energy sectors that are necessary for Africa to maintain the significant economic growth it is currently experiencing.”

Blackstone is helping build the Black Rhino team, and also announced today the hiring of Mimi Alemayehou.

Mimi Alemayehou, who previously served as the Executive Vice President at the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), will join Black Rhino as Managing Director and member of the Executive Committee.  In addition, Alemayehou will serve as an Executive Advisor and Chair of Blackstone Africa Infrastructure.  During Alemayehou’s tenure from 2010 to 2014, OPIC’s portfolio grew by more than 24% to $18 billion. Her leadership at OPIC was key in tripling its Africa portfolio to nearly $4 billion.  Previously, Alemayehou served as the United States Executive Director on the board of the African Development Bank (AfDB).  As the senior Treasury official in Africa, Alemayehou represented the U.S. on Treasury and development issues and was instrumental in pushing the AfDB to increase its lending to the private sector in support of infrastructure projects.  

Alemayehou will join Herlihy and the existing Black Rhino team, led by Managing Directors, Daniel O’Shea and Greg Meneses. O’Shea and Meneses contribute significant experience in the energy and infrastructure sectors, including thermal power generation, renewable power generation, infrastructure, rail and telecommunications globally and across the African continent. 

Black Rhino’s active project development pipeline includes projects in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Nigeria, and South Africa.  Both Blackstone and Black Rhino have a successful track record of working collaboratively with local stakeholders to develop projects in a socially responsible way that creates long-term value for local communities and regional economies.

“Black Rhino’s development approach has been built around establishing relationships with African partners who share our long-term commitment to safe, sustainable, and socially responsible investments,” said Herlihy. “We look forward to partnering with governments, civil society, and other stakeholders to create mutual value in each community where we invest in the coming years.”

Through its portfolio company Sithe Global, Blackstone is a lead investor alongside the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development in the 250 MW Bujagali Hydropower Plant in Jinja, Uganda on the Nile River. The facility has reduced the cost of power for Uganda’s national utility by two thirds, nearly doubled the country’s generation capacity with clean, affordable, renewable energy, making the country’s electricity supply one of the cleanest in the world, and helped increase Uganda’s GDP growth rate by 60%.  Blackstone is also a founding investor in Kosmos, an oil and gas exploration company.  Kosmos has worked closely with the Government of Ghana and the Ghana National Petroleum Company to develop the deep-water Jubilee oil field, one of West Africa’s largest discoveries in the last decade. 

About Blackstone

Blackstone Energy Partners is Blackstone’s energy-focused private equity business, with a successful record built on Blackstone’s industry expertise and partnerships with exceptional management teams. Blackstone has invested approximately $7 billion of equity globally across a broad range of sectors within the energy industry.

Blackstone is one of the world’s leading investment firms. We seek to create positive economic impact and long-term value for our investors, the companies we invest in, and the communities in which we work. We do this by using extraordinary people and flexible capital to help companies solve problems. Our asset management businesses, with almost $300 billion in assets under management, include investment vehicles focused on private equity, real estate, public debt and equity, non-investment grade credit, real assets and secondary funds, all on a global basis. Blackstone also provides various financial advisory services, including financial and strategic advisory, restructuring and reorganization advisory and fund placement services.

Further information is available at Follow Blackstone on Twitter @Blackstone.

About Black Rhino

Black Rhino was founded to address the critical need for infrastructure and energy development across the African continent. Black Rhino seeks to capitalize on the major opportunity to invest in projects in the energy security sector, including power generation, transmission, fuel storage and pipelines. Black Rhino has developed a comprehensive understanding of the African continent, including the necessity to establish strong partnerships with leading African entities that complement its expertise.  

Black Rhino’s management team has collectively been involved in the development of over US$35 billion of infrastructure, communication and power generation projects across the globe and has over one hundred thirty-five years of combined African experience. The team has been responsible for numerous projects from the concept stage through the full financing, construction, operation and ultimately the exit stage and prides itself on setting standards for developing transformational projects that aim for the greatest level of local population participation and adherence to strict environmental and safety standards.

Further information is available at Contact Black Rhino at [email protected].

Christine Anderson
+1 212-583-5182
[email protected]