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09 Apr 2014

Stephenson Harwood advises Ambience Ventures on the acquisition of stake in RVR

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International law firm Stephenson Harwood has advised Ambience Ventures Limited (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 Limited (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 Limited) is the investment vehicle of the leading investment company in the Middle East and Africa, Citadel Capital SAE.

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 500 kilometres of rail that links Kenya with Tororo in Eastern Uganda and Gulu in the north, ending two decades of disuse and inefficiency. The more efficient and dynamic railway is now backed by world-class technology and rehabilitated rolling stock as part of an on-going reconditioning program. For the first time, the entire network is managed through a state-of-the-art 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. Tony Edwards, corporate partner who led on the deal, commented “we are delighted to have advised Citadel Capital on this exciting transaction. This deal represents an important step forward and we look forward to working with Citadel Capital again in the months and years to come.”

Karim Sadek, managing director of Citadel Capital commented “we have worked with the team at Stephenson Harwood on this flagship transportation project for over 5 years. They always excel and are always there for us as a trusted advisor when we need them.”

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

Kamal Shah, head of Africa and India groups at Stephenson Harwood, also commented "this is another example of the great legal work being done at Stephenson Harwood for our Africa focused clients. We are dedicated in continuing to grow the firm in this area and look forward to working on more transactions within this rapidly developing market."

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