Stephenson Harwood advises Ambience Ventures on RVR acquisition

Stephenson Harwood has advised Ambience Ventures on its acquisition of a 34 per cent stake in the national rail operator of Kenya and Uganda, Rift Valley Railways (RVR), from TransCentury.

The transaction, which was completed on 31 March 2014, brings Ambience Ventures’ total ownership of RVR to 85 per cent, following the acquisition of the entire equity stake held by TransCentury, a Nairobi-listed infrastructure company. TransCentury held its stake in RVR, through its subsidiary, Safari Rail Company. Ambience Ventures (through Africa Railways) is the investment vehicle of Citadel Capital SAE, an investment company in the Middle East and Africa.

Since 2010, Citadel Capital and TransCentury have led the replacement of hundreds of kilometres of dilapidated track and completed the first phase of the rehabilitation of 500km of rail that links Kenya with Tororo in Eastern Uganda and Gulu in the north, ending two decades of disuse and inefficiency.

The entire network is now managed through a GPS-based control room from the company’s headquarters in Nairobi; moreover, RVR is now moving into a phase that will see it purchase new locomotives, doubling its fleet size in the coming 12 months.

Stephenson Harwood advised both Citadel Capital SAE and Ambience Ventures on the legal aspects of the transaction, from planning to completion.

The Stephenson Harwood team was led by corporate partner Tony Edwards and drew expertise from a number of teams within the firm. Edwards was principally supported by associates Jennifer Tyson and Rob Gray.