After years of working across the globe for multinational companies, Albert Alsina set up shop in Malta, establishing the private equity investment firm, Mediterrania Capital Partners. As Founder and CEO, he invests his time and energy in facilitating the growth of the business in Africa and beyond, with the hope of effecting positive change that will reverberate across communities.

Nothing drives Albert Alsina, the CEO of private equity investment firm Mediterrania Capital Partners, more than “creating value the right way”. This means pushing for more than revenues and profits, and for more than simply ensuring returns for his firm’s investor base – although these are essential imperatives. It means also prioritising the positive impact fostered by those investments made through his organisation. “My passion is finding companies with great potential – we’re currently principally focused on African businesses – and helping them to grow.”

Albert established the investment firm 10 years ago, after spending the earlier years of his career working in operational roles, “creating value for companies, particularly in Latin America, the US and Europe.” He also managed businesses in the UK, then Brazil, and the US – in Cincinnati and Boston – before working on the African continent. “I worked for multinational enterprises and, after a while, decided to leverage all my knowledge to create a team focused on investing in companies that made a difference thanks to their positive impact on economies and communities.”

To achieve this goal, Mediterrania Capital Partners specialises in facilitating different forms of investment, including growth capital. “We started working in Africa but, today, we’re also operating across other different locations. We manage €740 million worth of assets; we’re regulated by the MFSA, as well as regulators in Spain, Morocco and Mauritius, and we have offices in Casablanca, Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, as well as in Cairo and Barcelona.”

The firm manages “several different asset classes, not only for the mid-market but also private equity for European SMEs, specifically in Spain and Portugal,” Albert explains. Moreover, it possesses “a fund investing in capital markets in Africa, that is in African companies trading in London, Sydney, Toronto, Casablanca, Lagos, Nairobi, Cairo, and Abidjan. This is a very clear capital markets investment structure, which can give liquidity to our investors every 15 days,” he says.

In Africa, “we have also invested in real estate, mainly in offices and logistics parks, through long-term rental contracts, and that gives us a yield of approximately 10 per cent; we also offer a service managing third-party money, which we’ll invest in any of our funds or as a co-investment with other partners in sectors which that particular investor will like, such as healthcare, education, finance – specifically financial inclusion – as well as in the sector of fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG).” This is all done within the context of a diligent regulatory framework. “We have strict governance, compliance and back-office processes, which are in line with industry benchmark standards,” Albert attests.

Mediterrania Capital Partners attracts investors from all over the globe, although most have emerged from North America as well as European and African countries. Nonetheless, “we’re now looking for investors in the Middle East and Asia, focusing particularly on Japan.” These investors are offered the opportunity to make a substantial on-the-ground impact in North and Sub-Saharan Africa.

“We’re a purpose-driven organisation which combines two pillars: delivering positive returns to our investors and making a positive impact in communities, economies and the planet. Our commitment is reflected in the quality of our investment policies, which focus on climate change, the environment and gender equality. We’re creating new jobs on the African continent, pushing more gender balance within those companies in which we invest, and are a signatory to the UN’s Principles for Responsible Investment, demonstrating our dedication to the highest international standards. And all that’s without ever compromising on our returns, which currently stand at between 18 and 21 per cent, on a yearly basis. That’s what we deliver to our investors.”

Albert cites examples of specific companies in which Mediterrania Capital Partners has facilitated growth, resulting in favourable outcomes for the societies and people involved: “in many African countries there are fewer than 1.8 hospital beds for every 1,000 people. Compare that to 12 to 13 beds for every 1,000 people in OECD countries and you will see the significant gap that needs to be addressed in the healthcare sector there. So, we have invested in hospitals and clinics, contributing to the opening of 21 hospitals in North Africa, totalling more than 3,000 beds. We’ve also invested in private universities, such as the Université Privée de Marrakech (UPM), in contexts where the public sector cannot keep up with the demand,” he explains.

Other examples abound. In Tunisia, Mediterrania Capital Partners has facilitated growth capital investment in the Groupe Scolaire René Descartes (GSRD), an educational institution offering French and Tunisian programmes. Additionally, the company has invested in Aziza, a food retail operator managing more than 500 stores across the country and employing over 3,800 staff. Closer to home, in Europe, the firm has participated in climate change initiatives in Spain, investing in improving water usage systems through technology. “We’re helping to close the gaps in these countries and delivering returns to our investors,” Albert emphasises.

As the CEO and Founder of Mediterrania Capital Partners, Albert actively contributes to the growth of the companies in which the firm invests. He sees himself as “an enabler of talent”, hiring and mentoring staff who have contributed to the businesses. This approach has empowered Albert’s organisation to “create value in more than 17 companies.”

Moreover, “every time we invest in a company, we enquire about the conditions of employees: do they have a pension or social security? Is there a proper gender balance among the staff? Are there women in the C-suite? We want to ensure there’s a well-balanced human resources policy implemented across the board.” However, Mediterrania Capital Partners does not stop there. “We also look at businesses owned or managed by women; businesses that have a middle management team composed of women; or businesses that specialise in delivering products and services to women. This is also part of our strategy, and we’re proud of the support we provide to women entrepreneurs,” he says.

He sees Malta’s financial and geographical profile as instrumental in such success. “When I was evaluating where to set up our licence, I chose Malta since the island has a lot to offer – and not just in terms of weather and food, of course,” he laughs. “You’ve got strong lawyers, auditors, financial service providers, and administrators of international quality who offer a competitive pricing scale. It’s also convenient: when I host guests from Tunisia and Morrocco, for instance, they feel welcome and comfortable on the island.” Despite this, he identifies a glaring gap in the local financial market. “Here, private equity firms don’t really exist. There are no private capital venture funds either. This is something which Malta needs to address, and it requires attention from all actors working here,” he attests.

This year, Albert’s growth strategy remains ambitious. By the end of 2024, he aims to manage €1 billion in assets under the management of Mediterrania Capital Partners. “We’ll be one of the largest private equity firms investing in Africa. That’s one of our main objectives and purposes,” he says. To achieve this, “we’re aiming to conclude the fundraising for our flagship Med-Cap Growth Fund for Africa. Simultaneously, we’re initiating a new cycle for our Iberia fund and establishing our Africa Select Equity Fund, for which we just obtained the licence, enabling us to invest in robust companies,” he says.

Meanwhile, the core operations of Mediterrania Capital Partners will continue to be geared towards contributing to constructive change: “we have plenty of projects lined up and the vision, the passion and the talent within the team to make them happen,” he concludes with a smile.

This article is part of the serialisation of 50 interviews featured in MaltaCEOs 2024 – the sister brand to MaltaCEOs.mt and an annual high-end publication bringing together some of the country’s most influential business leaders

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