2 agile capital Skin in the game In 2011 Agile Capital was formed through a management buy out of Zico Capital. CEO Tshego Sefolo describes the ethos of Agile as ‘’pursuing a differentiated investment philosophy, fostering long-term partnerships”. Among their many carefully selected investments sits Provantage Media Group (PMG). Sefolo views the Provantage shareholding as one of their most successful. “Since our original investment in 2011, the business has more than surpassed our expectations,” Sefolo says. Their satisfaction as both shareholders and partners has led them to focus on the media sector as a strategically important one, offering opportunities for growth in SA and Africa. Both Sefolo and director Londeka Shezi are clear on what investment criteria they apply to new opportunities and refer often to how Provantage has lived up to their high standards. Why Provantage? Says Shezi, “We look for market leaders with strong track records, who seek meaningful empowerment, exhibit good growth potential and have good management teams.” Provantage ticks these boxes with unique offerings and a management team with great networks and a solid view of the bigger picture. Sefolo agrees, emphasising four key triggers: 1. An entrepreneurial management team with skin in the game, who exhibit passion and ambition. Renowned operators in their space, respected professionals who want to maintain their reputation and share similar values; 2. OOH is known as a cutthroat game with businesses fighting for a share of the same pie. Innovation is key within the segments they represent and in moving into new spaces; 3. When Agile first invested, two players dominated the industry. An opportunity for consolidation presented itself. It is important to occupy a leading position to create scale; and 4. An ability to marry the above with common interest and a deep pool of capital that unlocks an array of opportunities. Over years of being involved in the OOH media game, Agile is no stranger to the challenges. The sector is known to be litigious calling for an ability to predict consequences when a tender is awarded, for example. Being tied up in legal squabbles while being able to move forward and grow the business calls for a team that is hard working, nimble and astute. If the wrong team is at the helm, it is difficult to extricate your investment. The emphasis is on finding a team with the ability to innovate and attract and retain the right people. Provantage boasts senior management in each division who are creators and implementers. True partnership In any true partnership there has to be give and take. Shezi points out that while not interfering in the day to day running of Provantage, the value Agile brings to the table includes guidance on financial, legal and governance matters, strategy development, the sharing of networks or accompanying management to high level business development meetings, capital raising and a safe place to bounce off ideas and decisions. Agile has a fresh approach to OOH media, and describe the many opportunities to grow acquisitively and organically. Cutting edge digitisation opens up a new world and this, coupled with careful expansion into Africa, holds much promise. Already ProActive and Airport Ads are pioneering the move into the continent and once assessed, they plan a deliberate roll out of other offerings. In the meantime there is plenty to get stuck into locally. Further acquisitions in the media and OOH space appeal to Sefolo. “As an investor that is margin and return driven we like the media space,” Sefolo says. There are probably many media businesses seeking a shareholder that brings empowerment, a respected track record and significant amount of cash to the table. But once again, he emphasises how vitally important it is to select the right partner. Agile is a proud and a strong supporter of the Provantage Training Academy (see page 6) and believe there is even more that can be done to continue promoting economic growth in South Africa by creating new jobs and upskilling individuals. On the matter of embracing empowerment, Agile praises management’s commitment and are seeking to move it across and down the organisation. Sefolo has the last word. “If we were starting out again, I would definitely back this team.” High praise indeed. • Agile Capital is Provantage Media Group’s investment partner. Sandra Gordon met up with Tshego Sefolo and Londeka Shezi to find out more about being bitten by the media bug, and why PMG is one of their best-performing investments.
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