Zemedeneh Negatu, a leading businessman, who was the managing partner of EY Ethiopia, has parted ways with the multinational consultancy and advisory firm, EY (formerly Ernst & Young), ending a decade-and-a-half old relationship. Zemedeneh has now assumed a new role – Global Chairman of Fairfax Africa Fund LLC.
“EY has ceased its relationship with its member firm in Ethiopia and is modifying its operating model in this country”, Fathima Naidoo, Africa Media Relations for EY, wrote in an email statement exclusively sent to The Reporteryesterday. “EY has served clients in Ethiopia for over 15 years and we remain committed to supporting their ongoing growth throughout existing Africa member firms, consisting of more than 5,750 people in 32 countries. We will continue to re-assess our operating model to ensure we are best serving our clients in one of the fastest growing economies in Africa”.
The multinational company, headquartered in London, UK entered the Ethiopian market almost two decades ago partnering with Zemedeneh. EY Ethiopia secured contracts with institutions including Ethiopian Airlines. Last year alone, it earned a 24 million birr contract with the national airline to help modernize its business management system.
“We have a fantastic relationship with EY but were limited from expanding regionally and outside of Ethiopia. We wanted to look beyond advisory and we now have the liberty to not only offer advice, but enter the investment sector”, Zemedeneh told The Reporter on Friday. “As of February 1, I have been appointed as the Global Chair of Fairfax Africa Fund”.
Fairfax Africa Fund, with an investment portfolio of USD 200 million, is a Virginia-based company, the adopted hometown of Zemedeneh and is an early investor of HelloCash.
In his message to companies that signed up with EY Ethiopia, Zemedeneh said that they would continue to receive the same quality service with the new entity.
“At Fairfax Africa Fund, we work on infrastructure, mining, energy, agro-industry and manufacturing. We focus on high growth registering African markets through multiple investment platforms, by providing financing as private equity, venture capital and mezzanine. In certain countries we also provide investment banking and transaction advisory services,” Zemedeneh told The Reporter. “We are in the midst of deciding which companies to keep or let go,” he said.
“Our biggest investment in Ethiopia will be launched in the 4th quarter of 2017, a USD three billion oil infrastructure project in joint venture with one of the largest conglomerates in Asia,” Zemedeneh told The Reporter.
EY Ethiopia employees, who were approached by The Reporter, said on conditions of anonymity that some employees were warned of the potential end of the company earlier this year and were transferred to companies associated with Zemedeneh. Most were told last Friday, according to unhappy and shocked employees of the company.