Top 5 African acquisitions of 2015

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Many a startup founder sees acquisition as achieving ultimate success, and for investors the promise of a big exit is a vital driving force.  So as we look back on the year’s highlights, Africa’s acquisitions deserve a special showcase.  Here Disrupt Africa reminds you of our five favourite acquisitions on the continent in 2015.

Two acquisitions are really neck-and-neck for the top acquisition of the year – iKubu, and Weza Tele.

iKubu

Stellenbosch, South Africa, based startup iKubu was acquired by GPS navigation and wireless device company Garmin in January – what a way to kickstart the year.

Garmin acquired the assets of iKubu, which designs computer vision and radar systems for the cycling market, for an undisclosed amount.

One of iKubu’s technologies was the clincher: the startup was at the time of acquisition in the final stages of developing the Backtracker low-energy bike radar, which provides unparalleled situational awareness by giving the cyclist the speed and distance of vehicles that are approaching from behind.

“iKubu has found a way to implement short-range radar into a low-power system that addresses a common concern among cyclists – identifying potential hazards that are approaching them from behind,” said Garmin president and chief executive officer (CEO) Cliff Pemble. “We are delighted to add this technology to the Garmin portfolio.”

Weza Tele

The East African entrepreneurial ecosystem’s world was well and truly rocked in May, when financial services group AFB announced the acquisition of Kenyan startup Weza Tele

… for US$1.7 million –  the largest acquisition of a tech startup in the country to date.

Weza Tele provides a number of  value added mobility solutions in commerce, supply chain, distribution and mobile payment integration, with these solutions in use not just in Kenya but also in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

The tech entrepreneurship scene went wild at the news (… see the reactions here).

It’s hard to follow the excitement caused by these two acquisitions.  But, Africa’s startup world did try to please.  Here are three more acquisitions definitely worthy of the top five.

TYME

South African startup TYME was acquired in February by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), for an undisclosed sum.

TYME builds and operates digital banking solution, and at acquisition already included amongst its clients MTN, hosting and operating the telecom’s Mobile Money service, and Pointbreak, for whom it built new generation banking model EBank.

“There is a natural alignment starting with TYME’s vision of financial inclusion and CBA’s vision to excel at securing and enhancing the financial well-being of people, businesses and communities,” TYME said.

Fawry

The majority stake in Egyptian e-payments startup Fawry was acquired in November by a consortium of international financial investors; with the deal valuing the startup at US$99 million.

Headquartered in Cairo, Fawry provides users with secure electronic bill presentment and payment services solutions. It processes over one million transactions each day and operates a network of over 50,000 collection points in 300 cities and suburbs across Egypt.

The consortium included Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund (EAEF), pan-African private investment firm Helios Investment Partners – which in January raised over US$1 billion for a third Africa-focused fund – and the MENA Long-Term Value Fund.

PriceCheck

And the year’s acquisition with the most poetic touch goes to PriceCheck, which was bought back by original founder Kevin Tucker, alongside Silvertree Internet Holdings, from Naspers – which acquired PriceCheck from Tucker back in 2010.

The deal, signed in November, saw Silvertree Internet Holdings and Tucker acquire PriceCheck for an undisclosed sum. Tucker originally started the company in 2006, before selling it to Naspers.

PriceCheck is now Africa’s largest price comparison service, with over five million products listed from retailers including Zando, Konga and Jumia. Having initially launched in South Africa, it expanded to Nigeria in 2013, and now sees 25 million unique annual visitors across its two platforms with year-on-year growth of 40 per cent in South Africa and 600 per cent in Nigeria.

“It is an exciting prospect to retake the reins of a company I started almost a decade ago. Naspers, through investment and strategic partnerships, has built PriceCheck to be a leading price and product comparison platform,” Tucker said of the re-acquisition.

“My challenge now is to consolidate the considerable headway they have made over the last five years and build an infrastructure to service the many millions more Africans that will be venturing online for consumer goods, predominantly via mobile, in the coming years”.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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