European investment firm Wendel has signed an agreement to purchase a 40% stake in SGI Africa.

A pan-African property company, SGI Africa has been created by CFAO to support its retail development plan.

SGI Africa develops and operates shopping centres through its PlaYce brand.

It opened its first PlaYce shopping centre in Côte d’Ivoire last year and intends to expand into seven other West and Central African countries, including Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Gabon, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Senegal.

"I have confidence in SGI Africa’s well-directed development plans in eight African countries."

In the next five to seven years, the property firm plans to operate around 20 shopping centres, with each including a Carrefour hypermarket or supermarket, and a line-up of brands under franchise to CFAO.

These projects will mark an investment of approximately €500m, which will be financed through bank loans and shareholders’ equity.

Wendel executive board chairman Frédéric Lemoine said: "With this investment in SGI Africa, Wendel is pursuing its sectorial and geographic diversification strategy by investing in the shopping malls sector will be central to African growth. I have confidence in SGI Africa’s well-directed development plans in eight African countries.

"These plans are based on long-term trends such as the growth of the African middle class and the continent’s urbanisation. I am also very pleased that Wendel teams up with such excellent partners."

Wendel will have a 40% stake in SGI Africa, with another 40% held by CFAO and 20% by FFC, which is a partnership between CDC International Capital and Qatar Investment Authority.

Over the next few years, Wendel will invest through Oranje-Nassau Développement up to €120m in SGI Africa.

After meeting certain customary conditions, Wendel will make an initial €25m investment in the coming weeks in SGI Africa.