Steady growth is the name of the game for Albert Alsina, by creating a culture of ethics and sustainability, he has maintained consistent success for his private equity firm, Mediterrania Capital Partners, ever since its launch in 2013. As a result, the company enjoys continued support from its investors, which led to almost €500 million in assets under management last year. After staying the course during the pandemic, Albert is now eager to reach some prominent milestones in 2022.
Albert Alsina has worked in a variety of industries, from telecoms to pharmaceutical manufacturing. But it was his extensive experience as a general manager that led him towards the next chapter of his career.
“I was invited to participate in a management buyout of a company in the United States,” he starts. “That was my first role as an investor, and the first time I experienced the opportunities that arise when you implement change and enable growth in a company. That’s when I understood the value I could bring to a private equity practice.”
That understanding, combined with his operational background, led him to establish his own company, Mediterrania Capital Partners (MCP). “Our mission is to invest in SME and mid-cap companies in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, providing them with financial and strategic support to help them reach their next level of growth, setting the foundations for long-term development,” he explains. “With offices in Abidjan, Algiers, Barcelona, Cairo, and Casablanca, we boast a diverse and highly skilled team of 25 investment professionals. Today we have 15 African companies in our portfolio from a wide range of sectors such as education, healthcare, financial services, retail and construction, leaders in their respective markets.”
In his current role as CEO, Albert shares that the best part of his job is seeing these companies succeed. “At the moment, our company portfolio employs over 20,000 people across the continent. Seeing these companies triple and quadruple in size and have a positive impact in communities and economies gives me and my team immense satisfaction,” he smiles.
As Albert explains, it’s not just any growth that counts – MCP has developed strict policies to ensure every cent invested contributes towards protecting the environment and enhancing the social development of African communities. “At the moment we are focusing on two new policies. The first is a climate change and climate adaptability policy, which I feel is very relevant in today’s world,” Albert states. “More specifically, we work with our portfolio companies in order to reduce energy consumption, improve recycling processes, maximise water use, etc. As an example,
one of our companies, Aziza, is a leading supermarket chain in Tunisia with over 300 shops which has recently installed solar panels in all their 350+ shops with the aim to reduce energy consumption and move to renewable energies. Another company, Randa, a pasta and couscous producer, has implemented trigeneration systems significantly reducing its environmental impact besides from achieving cost savings. Cooling and heating are generated through waste heat instead of burning fossil fuels or consuming electricity. This reduces CO2 equivalent greenhouse gas emissions into the environment. All MCP portfolio companies are currently implementing similar initiatives and the progress so far has been amazing.”
“The second is our ‘2X’ policy, which ensures that gender equality is standard within the company. For example, we make sure that there are women on all Boards as well as in middle management, and have initiatives in place to pursue and encourage the hiring of women across all our portfolio companies. As a result of those initiatives, the number of female employees in our portfolio has been steadily increasing over the years.”
It goes without saying that Albert needs a reliable team to achieve what he does. “I consider myself to be an enabler of talent when it comes to investments,” he says. “I nurture investment professionals who understand how to create value within companies and deliver good returns across each of our projects. Bringing the right talent to the company and keeping them motivated is a key facet of my role,” he continues. “Of course, the other crucial aspect of my role as CEO is being the investment relations officer for all our existing clients – including large institutional investors, pension funds, insurance companies and private family offices.”
So, what does a typical business day look like for Albert? “I spend around 50 per cent of my time travelling across different regions of Africa to check in with the businesses we invest in, as well as looking after my investor clients,” he discloses. “The rest of the time, I’m in touch with financial regulators, brainstorming different investment strategies with my team, talking with providers for administration, compliance and accounting services, and meeting with the Boards – sometimes on Zoom, sometimes in-person.”
Mediterrania Capital Partners’ purpose was certainly put to the test when COVID-19 hit. Albert and his team managed to retain every single employee throughout 2020 despite the challenging environment for all their investments. “We put together a special task force to support our portfolio companies through the crisis and obtained very good results. In fact, 2021 was a phenomenal year for our investments,” he states. “At the same time, the pandemic made us more compassionate. We were made to feel and understand the difficulties that so many have experienced, and this made us more proactive when it comes to important social issues that affect us on a global scale.”
While his businesses grew and became more resilient, Albert noticed the opportunities that arose for the Private Equity sector at large. “We suddenly have a natural, Darwinian filter of companies that have shown their strength despite the worst crisis in decades. We realised that, as many businesses were struggling, others managed to overcome the difficulties thanks to high quality products, innovation, employee commitment and strong management teams. Those type of businesses are the ones we are now incorporating into our management strategies,” he declares.
So, what’s next for Albert and MCP? “We’re currently fundraising for our latest fund and are working on several exits. In fact, last December we completed the partial IPO of TGCC, another of our portfolio companies, at the Casablanca Stock Exchange, which resulted in a significant oversubscription.”
TGCC’s IPO obtained the highest oversubscription on the Casablanca Stock Exchange (CSE) for more than 10 years and enabled the largest-ever Private Equity exit in the CSE. “That was confirmation that investors recognised our work as a Private Equity firm that builds companies with the right foundations to achieve growth responsibly and with the right governance processes. All our investments are moving in the right direction and we’re expecting excellent liquidity returns for our investors, so 2022 promises to be a very bright one for the Mediterrania Capital Partners,” he concludes.
This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2022 – an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders.
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