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Helios Fairfax Partners leads formation investment round in NBA Africa

Anna Lyudvig
May 31, 2021, 10:28 p.m.
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Word count: 510

Helios Fairfax Partners (HFP) has led the formation investment round in a newly formed entity called NBA Africa, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL) – a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

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Helios Fairfax Partners (HFP) has led the formation investment round in a newly formed entity called NBA Africa, including the Basketball Africa League (BAL) – a partnership between the NBA and the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside of North America.

The strategic investors include a consortium led by Babatunde Folawiyo, Chairman and CEO of Yinka Folawiyo Group; and Helios Fairfax Partners Corporation (HFP), led by Tope Lawani, Co-CEO of HFP and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Helios Investment Partners (Helios), HFP’s investment advisor.

The investors’ expertise in a wide range of industries and established relationships with African businesses, governments and NGOs will help accelerate the NBA’s growth across the continent.

Lawani and Folawiyo will also join the NBA Africa Board of Directors, which is led by NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams and includes NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum.

Tope Lawani, Helios Fairfax Partners Co-CEO, said: “Throughout Helios’ history, we have bridged international capital and expertise to African talent and enterprise, and this is a unique opportunity for us to do so in the world of sport by partnering with the NBA, a truly best-in-class operator. As a committed and experienced partner for businesses operating across Africa, we look forward to contributing our expertise, connectivity and market knowledge to support NBA Africa’s growth throughout the continent.”

In addition to Mutombo, additional investors in NBA Africa include NBA Legends Junior Bridgeman, Luol Deng (South Sudan), Grant Hill and Joakim Noah.

The NBA has a decades-long history in Africa and opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg in 2010.

Since then, the league’s efforts in Africa have focused on increasing access to basketball and the NBA through grassroots and elite development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, NBA Africa Games, the launch of the BAL, and more.

The funding will contribute to the growth of the BAL, help expand the NBA’s presence in priority African markets and Africa’s basketball ecosystem, and deepen the league’s engagement with players and fans through initiatives such as the launch of additional NBA Academies and social  responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families, including gender equality and economic inclusion efforts that the NBA and BAL announced in March.

HFP is a Canadian-based investment holding company focused on public and private investments in businesses that primarily operate in Africa. HFP was established in 2020 via a business combination between Fairfax Africa Holdings and the management company of Helios Investment Partners, Helios Holdings.

The inaugural BAL season, featuring 12 of the top club teams from 12 African countries, is underway in Kigali, Rwanda, and the first BAL Finals were held on Sunday, May 30.

Victor Williams, NBA Africa CEO, said: “The successful formation and funding of NBA Africa as a standalone entity is indicative of the rich history of the NBA in Africa, the power of the NBA’s vision for the growth of the game on the continent, and the strong commitment by our outstanding new partners to support that vision.”

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