Our team: 600 years of collective experience in the Financial Services industry
Matteo has a successful track record in private equity and investment banking spanning 20 years and focusing specifically on Growth Markets and Financial Services. He is a Managing Partner and Co-Founder of Apis Partners LLP, which manages Apis Growth Fund I – a private equity fund focused on investing in financial services companies in Africa and Asia.
Matteo was formerly a senior partner at The Abraaj Group, a leading EM private equity group, where he held various leadership roles in the investment team as well as being a member of the Executive and the Investment Committees. He was responsible for a number of Abraaj’s investee companies (10+), including Network International (payments), Saham Finance (insurance), and Jordan Ahli Bank (banking).
Matteo has been a board director of over 25 companies and completed over 110 transactions in Europe (including CEE), South Asia, the Middle East and Africa, throughout his career at Abraaj, at MIG ($7.4bn AUM) where he was briefly CIO, and at Deutsche Bank as MD and co-Head of Emerging Markets in the Financial Institutions Group.
Matteo has twice been a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Financing and Capital (2012-14 and 2014-16).
Matteo graduated from Queens College, the University of Oxford, with an MA (Hons) in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He is married, with three children.
Udayan brings to Apis his deep domain expertise and a global network of industry professionals, having co-founded Anthemis (one of the leading VC investors and corporate advisors in Financial Technology).
Formerly, Udayan was MD and Global Head of Financial Technology at Deutsche Bank and prior to that, a member of the European Specialty Finance practice at Credit Suisse. He has advised on a number of flagship PE transactions in the industry, such as Abraaj’s AED2bn acquisition of Network International, Helios’ acquisition of Interswitch (Nigeria), and Advent and Bain’s £2bn acquisition of WorldPay. Additionally, he has been the lead advisor on a number of high profile financial technology and payments transactions including: KKR’s USD28bn acquisition of First Data, Visa’s IPO, Deutsche Borse’s acquisition of ISE, and the Markit Group’s acquisition of International Index Corp. Udayan is more recently the co-founder of Anthemis Group, a diversified financial services firm investing in and advising technology-led businesses globally. Whilst at Anthemis, Udayan invested in over 20 companies in the global financial services space.
Originally from India, Udayan has an MA (Cantab) from Trinity College, the University of Cambridge.
Chairman of the Investment Committee
Kaj-Erik has over 30 years experience in venture capital, telecommunications and technology within Europe. Most recently, he was Chief Investment Office at Emirates Investment Authority, having previously served 9 years as Partner at Accel Partners in London.
Prior to this he was President and CEO of Sonera, Finland’s largest telecom operator, and also Director at SITRA, a Finnish Technology investment company where he was responsible for private equity investments. Kaj-Erik has served on the board at a variety of international companies including Carrier IQ, VoiceStream Wireless and Turkcell, and is an active member of the World Economic Forum and the EVCA. He holds an MA in Economics from the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE) and an MBA from HSE and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Graham is the CEO of Stage Capital, an independent private equity firm backed by Goldman Sachs Asset Management and Deutsche Bank Private Equity. He has over 23 years of buy side and investment banking experience, both in Growth Markets (particularly in Africa), as well as in Europe and globally.
He was formerly the Head of Private Investments at RIT Capital Partners, a £2.3bn investment trust chaired by Lord Jacob Rothschild, where he also chaired the Executive Committee. Prior to this, Graham was head of Standard Bank Group’s Global Principal Investment business, which he established. He joined Standard Bank from MidOcean Partners, formerly DB Capital Partners, where he was one of the Founding Partners. Prior to MidOcean, which he joined in 2001, Graham was Co-Head of the Alternative Telecom Investment Banking Group (Europe) at Goldman Sachs. He has served as a board member of some 20 companies, including Rockefeller & Co, TBIH Financial Services Group and United Biscuits Group.
Graham holds an MA from Oxford University (a Rhodes Scholar) and a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) Degree from the University of Cape Town.
Michael G. Essex
Michael has over 34 years of emerging markets investment experience in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia regions. He was most recently Director of World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC), MENA, a position he held from 2005 until his retirement in 2010.
Prior to this, Michael held executive positions in risk management and corporate banking in Asia with Bank of Nova Scotia and in Australia/Pacific with NZI Bank Group. Currently he is Non-Executive Director on the board and audit committee of Ahli United Bank, a pan MENA region commercial bank and NED on the board and investment committee of Macquarie Bank’s India Infrastructure Fund, a $1.2Bn fund investing in the country’s airports, telecom, power and toll road assets.
Sean is a well known and much sought after thought leader on the future of financial services. He combines a powerful mix of entrepreneurial, investment and corporate experience, informed by over 20 years of experience working at senior levels in capital markets and investment banking.
Sean was formerly on the Global Markets Management Committee at Dresdner Kleinwort where he ran a number of their Global Capital Markets including their Digital Markets Division, where he was instrumental in driving the introduction and adoption of electronic book building in the European Fixed Income Markets. He was previously a Non-Executive Director of Markit Group and Board Chairman of the International Index Company (iBoxx). With a 10-year track record in seed-round digital finance investments with returns ranging from 20x-100x, Sean was a founding investor in Betfair, The Climate Corporation (WeatherBill), Markit and Zoopla, and is currently a Board Director of Trov, Currency Cloud, Blueleaf and Fidor Bank and on the advisory board of Zoopla. He is also the author of the widely read Park Paradigm, a blog focused on the future of finance. Originally from Calgary, Alberta, Sean has a BSc in Materials Science from Rice University in Texas, US.
Chairman of the Advisory Board
Marcello Sala was the Executive Vice Chairman of the Intesa Sanpaolo Management Board from 2010 to 2016, where he was charged with developing the international relations and projects of the Group. He was also a Board member from 2007 to 2016, and previously served within Intesa Sanpaolo as the Vice Chairman of AlexBank (Egypt) and a member of the Board of Directors of Banca IMI and IMI Fondi Chiusi SGR. In 2008, he was a Co-Founder of Banca ITB, a bank focused on innovative payment solutions for the Italian retail market, and successfully managed its sale in 2016 when he was an Executive Director.
Mr. Sala is the Italian Chairman of the Italian-Egyptian Business Council, Chairman of FITS! (an entity focused on developing innovative non-profit-making activities), a member of the Trilateral Commission, and a member of the B20 Financing Growth Taskforce. He has also held various positions in Italian and international companies and institutions, including as a member of the International Council of the Bretton Woods Committee, Board member of ISPI (Italian Institute for International and Political Studies), member of the Board of Directors of IAI (Institute for International Affairs), and Vice Chairman of Global Ports Holding.
Mr. Sala holds degrees in Economics and Political Science from the Catholic University of Milan. His professional experience includes senior positions in private equity (Managing Director, The Oak Fund), merchant banking, tourism and investment advisory.
Advisory Board Member
Remi Babalola served as Minister of State for Finance from July 2007 to August 2010; he simultaneously held the post of Supervising Federal Capital Territory Minister in late 2008. Before his appointment to the Federal Cabinet, he had extensive experience in the private sector at top management and executive director levels, most especially in banking, auditing, consulting and strategy. He has both brain-on and hands-on experience in value creation, organizational renewal and leadership effectiveness. Currently, he is Chairman/ Chief Strategist of Alternative Capital Partners Limited, a Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) registered Advisory and Fund/ Portfolio Management firm. He is also the Vice Chairman of the Board of Directors of Law Union and Rock Insurance Plc.
His wealth of experience in financial services, particularly in digital enablers and financial inclusion, policy environment and deal engagements, presents opportunities for business and regulatory contacts, sectorial insights and operational expertise.
Remi Babalola is a Fellow of the Institutes of Accountancy and Taxation, as well as a Fellow of Bankers’ Institute and Institute of Directors. He is an Honorary Fellow of the West African Insurance Institute. He was the chairman of Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) (August 2007 to August 2010) responsible for the distribution of revenue to the three federating units of Nigeria.
Remi is an Alumnus of the University of Ibadan, University of Lagos and Lagos Business School. He had attended top tier courses and programmes at INSEAD, Stanford, Wharton, London Business School and Harvard.
He is highly involved in philanthropy, mentoring and empowerment/development of small and medium enterprise through his Remi Babalola Initiatives Incorporated. He is also partnering with the Nigerian Red Cross and a number of other non-governmental organizations in philanthropy.
Advisory Board Member
Mr. Choffel served as the Chief Executive Officer of Oman Insurance Company (“OIC”), the largest Insurance Company in the U.A.E. and the fourth largest in the Middle East, from September 2011 to May 2015 where he led the company’s strategy revamp and retained its market leadership. Under Mr. Choffel’s leadership, OIC gained more & more recognition in the region as reflected in the various awards it won, including ‘Middle East Insurer of the Year 2014’, ‘Best Insurance Brand UAE 2014’, ‘UAE Insurer of the Year 2014 & 2015’, ‘Best UAE Business Insurance Product 2015’ and ‘Outstanding Achievement by an Individual 2015’.
Prior to joining OIC, Mr. Choffel served as AIG Regional President MEASA for ALICO based in Dubai, and had a long career with AIG in different key executive management positions across Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australia where he developed new markets, turned around ailing business and managed risks. He served as a Director of IGI Life Insurance Limited until January 2009 and a Director at Star Health and Allied Insurance Company Limited until 2015, and has been Independent Director at Al Rajhi Co. for Co-operative Insurance since November 2015.
Mr. Choffel attended the Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Paris where he received a Diploma in Business Administration (Finance), and the University of Wyoming where he got a Master of Science in Business Administration. He speaks four languages fluently and has a working knowledge on two additional languages.
Advisory Board Member
Mr Narain currently serves as the non-executive vice-chairman of the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE). He co-founded this state of the art exchange for the Indian securities and derivatives markets in 1994 as part of India’s efforts to open up its economy to global capital and was the Managing Director & CEO till he stepped down in 2013. The NSE is seen as heralding major policy reforms for the Indian market and is reputed to have brought new standards of efficiency, governance and innovation to the Indian securities market. The NSE also has focused extensively on financial inclusion and financial education.
Since stepping down from his executive position at the NSE, Mr Narain has been engaged at the board level or in an advisory capacity with select private corporates, NGOs, regulators, RBI (India’s Central Bank) and the Government of India.
Mr Narain has degrees in economics from St Stephen’s College, Delhi and Cambridge University, UK and a degree in business administration from the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, USA.
Advisory Board Member
Brett King is a five times Amazon bestselling author, a renowned commentator and globally respected speaker on the future of business. He has spoken in over 40 countries, to half a million people, on how technology is disrupting business, changing behaviour and influencing society. He has spoken at TED conferences, given opening keynotes for Wired, Singularity University’s Exponential Finance, The Economist and many more. He has visited the White House to advise the National Economic Council on the Future of Banking and been invited to meet with regulators from the United States, China, the European Union and the World Bank.
King hosts the world’s leading dedicated radio show on technology impact in banking and financial services called “Breaking Banks” (72 countries, 1 million listeners). He is also the founder of Moven, a successful mobile start-up, which has raised over US$24 million to date, with the world’s first mobile, downloadable bank account, available in the United States, Canada and New Zealand.
Named “King of the Disruptors” by Banking Exchange magazine, King was voted American Banker’s Innovator of the Year in 2012, voted the world’s #1 Financial Services Influencer by The Financial Brand and was nominated by Bank Innovation as one of the top 10 “coolest brands in banking”. He was shortlisted for the 2015 Advance Global Australian of the Year Award for being one of the most influential Australians living offshore. His books have been released in more than a dozen languages and he has achieved bestseller status in 20 countries, with many of his books still appearing in bestseller lists more than 18 months after their initial release. His fifth book is Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane.
King has been featured on Fast Company, TechCrunch, Wired, Fortune magazine, FoxNews, ABC, CNBC, Bloomberg, BBC, Financial Times, The Economist, ABA Journal, Bank Technology News and many more. He contributes regularly as a blogger in Huffington Post.
Rotimi is based in Lagos and heads Apis Partners Africa Limited. He has 30+ years in financial services experience in private equity investing, M&A advisory, and senior bank management with several leading institutions in West Africa.
Rotimi is currently a Board Director at Diamond Bank Plc and Chairman of Rendeavour West Africa, through which he served as the Chairman of RenMoney MFB until December 2016. Rotimi was Group Head Ecobank Capital Nigeria until 2013, prior to which he was the CEO of Renaissance Group West Africa and MD of Renaissance Partners (Private Equity arm of Renaissance Group).
Prior to Renaissance Group, Rotimi was for 18 years with African Capital Alliance, where he served as Chief Investment Officer. Previously, he was responsible for establishing the SME Fund for ACA in 2001 and was CEO of the Fund from inception, as well as being a Principal in Capital Alliance Private Equity Fund (Nigeria’s first structured fund). Before joining ACA in 1999 he was, for over four years, Executive Director of Ventures & Trusts Limited, a diversified venture capital firm. Previous employment included Prime Merchant Bank in Lagos, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in Ibadan and Arthur Andersen in Lagos.
Rotimi is the pioneer President of the Venture Capital Association of Nigeria (VCAN). He was a Director of the African Venture Capital Association (ACVA) since 1994 until March 2008 when he was elected as Chairman of AVCA. In 2011 Rotimi served on the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Committee to review the potentials for demutualization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange.
Oliver is based in Johannesburg, South Africa and brings a wealth of technology experience across payments and banking coupled with a considered perspective on disruptive technologies, and practical experience of mobile payments, particularly in Africa. With over 20 years of experience, Oliver is currently an Operating Partner at Apis, in charge of operational improvement directly with Apis portfolio companies. He has held CIO and COO positions in several international corporates in Europe and South Africa including First Data, Telecash and Encorus Technologies. He has also run large data centres, NSPs and operations in the payments space and having architected a successful mobile payment platform for emerging markets, is a strong proponent of new payment technologies that can empower the un- / under banked populations.
Keith is the General Counsel for Apis Partners LLP and advises on both investment activities and the advisory arrangements of Apis. He has extensive experience in M&A, private equity and regulatory compliance, particularly in emerging markets, gained over more than 25 years.
Keith was most recently the Managing Partner and Group General Counsel for Chayton Capital LLP, an emerging markets focused private equity firm, where he was responsible for all legal and regulatory aspects of the firm and its related investment funds, in addition to managing its European business. Prior to that, he was a Partner at Dentons (formerly Salans) in their Global Real Estate Group’s M&A and Private Equity practice.
Keith started his career in London but was based in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Vietnam for 10 years with leading US and UK international law firms.
Keith holds an MA (Hons) in Jurisprudence from the University of Oxford and obtained his professional qualification at the Inns of Court School of Law.
Managing Director, Investor Relations & Operations
Monica has over 18 years of experience in direct investing, management and strategy consulting, primarily in growth markets. Prior to Apis Partners, Monica was a Director at Banco Efisa. She was the head of the Business Unit focused on private equity investments, debt financing and corporate finance, in international markets (Africa, India, Middle East, Eastern Europe and Brazil). She was responsible for all management aspects, including P&L, capital allocation, investment criteria, origination, end to end execution of transactions and management of the team. Previously she was a strategy consultant for Marakon Associates. She led teams in Europe and Brazil, for companies like ABN AMRO, Banco Real (Brazil), BBVA, Santander, in a variety of strategic issues. At Procter & Gamble, she worked in Latin America and South East Asia, setting up new companies. Monica holds an MBA from INSEAD and a Masters Degree from the Instituto Superior Técnico (I.S.T) (Portugal) in Computer Science & Systems Engineering.
Asad has over 14 years of experience in private equity investing and corporate finance. Prior to Apis, Asad was a Partner at Wolfensohn Fund Management, a private equity fund specializing in financial services in emerging markets. Asad headed the firm’s London office and was actively involved in originating, executing and managing the fund’s financial sector investments, ranging from consumer finance lenders to stock exchanges.
Previously, Asad was the Director of Acquisitions & Investments at The Resource Group (TRG), a global investment holding company where his experience included over 10 private equity style investments in the business services sector. Asad started his career at Lazard where he worked on over 10 M&A transactions with an aggregate value of over $14bn. Asad has also served on the board of directors of 4 portfolio companies.
Asad holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BA in Economics from Georgetown University.
Portfolio Management Committee
Nadeem is a thought leader and practitioner of innovation within financial services and has an unmatched global network within both the startup world and the established corporates.
Before co-founding Anthemis Group, Nadeem was President at First Data Corporation where he held a number of senior roles, including most recently as Head of the Financial Institutions, where he ran a multibillion dollar organization overseeing businesses in over 50 markets. Before that he led the strategy and technology arm at American Management Systems. At Anthemis, he advises international financial services institutions on strategic innovation. He is passionate about supporting the emerging digital financial services ecosystem and to that end, is a dedicated mentor to startups at incubators and accelerators, like Barclays Techstars and Level39. He also serves on the Boards of PayPerks, AFB and OneBento within the Anthemis portfolio.
Nadeem has lived and worked all over the world and now resides in London with his young family. He also is the Board Chairman of CARE, Pakistan’s largest educational NGO.
Regional Investment Partner
Sanjay is based in India and the US and has spent over 25 years building game-changing asset management businesses in a number of growth markets. He has served as the President and Chief Executive Officer at Tata Asset Management, based in India. Prior to joining Tata, Sanjay also served as the Chief Executive Officer at Principal PNB Asset Management. He has also served as a Managing Director and Country Manager for India at Principal International Inc and at The Principal International for 12 years, 9 of them in India. He is currently the Chairman of Zyfin, a financial information company based in India.
Alexia has nearly a decade of experience in Financial Services, and she brings an in-depth understanding of financial and operational performance within the industry, having worked on several business transformation programs within the payments and broader financial services industry.
Prior to Apis, she was a VP at Anthemis, one of the leading VC investors and corporate advisors in Financial Technology, where she worked on investments and M&A transactions spanning a broad range of Financial Services, FinTech and Financial Infrastructure.
Previously she worked at Deutsche Bank and at TEMES, an Athens-based developer. During her years at Deutsche Bank she worked in the Financial Institutions team, where she was engaged in a broad array of M&A transactions focused in the MENA region and other high-growth markets.
Alexia has a Bachelors degree from Tufts University and a diploma in Development Politics and Arabic from SOAS.
Nicholas has a decade of experience in financial services private equity investing, strategy and management consulting. Prior to Apis, Nicholas was at Old Mutual based in South Africa, where he helped set up a Strategic Investment Fund spanning the African Financial Services landscape, considering both direct investment and partnering with local strategic partners / DFIs. Previously he was an Associate Director at Standard Chartered and part of the Wholesale Banking Strategy team in Singapore. He started his career with McKinsey and Company in London as a Business Analyst, working largely for McKinsey’s Finance practice, covering the breadth of the industry. Nicholas holds an MBA from INSEAD, and was also a Shell Scholar at Cambridge University with an MPhil in Bioscience.
Ravi has extensive advisory experience within financial services, having worked on a number of strategy and buy-side acquisition engagements in EMEA during his time at Anthemis Group. His interests in technology-led emerging business models in financial services range from alternative currencies and value systems to financial inclusion. Ravi previously interned with the European Natural Resources and Power team within the Investment Banking Division at Nomura.
Ravi graduated from the University of Warwick with a BSc (Hons) in Economics.
Kiprono is based in Lagos and has a range of experience in financial advisory, capital structuring, and debt origination in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Prior to Apis Partners, Kiprono worked with JP Morgan’s debt origination team in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he covered clients across Sub-Saharan Africa, including financial institutions in South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya. Kiprono also has experience of working in Kenya, his home country, where he interned with Jumia Kenya, the country’s largest eCommerce company (part of Africa Internet Group), and Kestrel Capital, the top stockbroker in the country. Kiprono holds an MBA from INSEAD and graduated from Harvard University with a Bachelor of Arts (Cum Laude) in Economics.
Dolapo has wide-ranging corporate finance experience across Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to joining Apis, Dolapo worked for Standard Bank’s Telecoms, Media and Technology Group in London. He was involved in the origination and execution of Mergers and Acquisitions and Debt and Equity financings for clients across Sub-Saharan Africa, including several financial technology transactions. Previously, Dolapo was at Deloitte where he was a Manager in the corporate finance advisory practice, advising financial institutions on strategic alternatives and financing.
Dolapo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics (Cum Laude) from Dartmouth College and qualified as a Chartered Accountant (ACA) with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
Fares is an Investment Associate within our London office. Prior to joining Apis Partners, Fares was an Investment Banking Associate at Morgan Stanley, having worked in their London and Dubai offices. Fares has extensive experience in the payments and real estate sectors, having previously worked on a number of landmark transactions both in the Emerging Markets and Western Europe.
Fares earned a BSc in Finance from Bentley University where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.
Emma is the newest member of the Apis team. Emma is an experienced Executive Assistant supporting in Media, Education, Merger and Acquisition sectors. Previously spending a few years at Bain & Co. supporting the London Private Equity lead.
Emma Graduated with a Degree is Visual and Performance Art (BABSc) from Gloucestershire University.
Elena is an Executive Assistant & Operations Manager within our London office. Prior to joining Apis Partners, Elena worked as an Executive Assistant within the financial services practice of DHR International, and before that as PA to the MD and Office Manager of a boutique asset management firm. Elena previously also served as an Executive Assistant to the Founder for a Private Family’s office in Italy.
Elena holds a Diploma in Modern Languages and Literature from Liceo Classico Linguistico in Alghero, Italy, and also a PA/Secretary Diploma from Souter’s Business School in London.
Office Manager - Lagos
Olusola has prior working experience in the financial services, education, and pharmaceutical sectors. She has previously worked as an analyst with Lloyds Bank’s Remediation Team in the UK. She also has experience working in Nigeria as a Human Resource Officer and Audit Executive. Olusola also served as a customer service officer with one of Nigeria’s top banks Access Bank Plc.
Olusola graduated from Covenant University with a Bachelor of Arts in English Language. She also holds an Msc. Degree in Human Resources Management & Development from The University of Salford Business School, UK.