SA gas startup Bluedrop Energy plans dual IPO on NYSE and JSE

Bluedrop Energy, a South African Gas startup company, this week announced its plans to list its shares on the NYSE in New York, USA and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange, South Africa. Bluedrop will first float its shares on the NYSE in 2022, while its JSE listing will follow at a date still to be announced.

In April this year, Bluedrop announced that it has secured a $20 million (R300 million) funding from J. Sassoon Group, a US, Washington DC-based private equity and investment firm for the construction of Bluedrop’s modern state of the art Smart Composite LPG Cylinder manufacturing plant. Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im) of the US has also issued a letter of interest providing $36m (R497m) finance guarantee in support of J Sassoon Group for this project.

Last month, J. Sassoon Group signed a Technical Services Agreement (TSA) with the South African office of a US-based multinational engineering firm, Fluor Corporation, for the development of Bluedrop’s smart composite LPG cylinder manufacturing plant.

Commenting on the listing, J. Sassoon Group Chairman, Mr. David Sassoon said: “We are pleased to continue to advise Bluedrop on its next step in its journey. The South African market is in desperate need of foreign capital infusion and this potential floating of Bluedrop’s shares in New York is going to help Bluedrop grow exponentially through asset acquisitions making it one of the leading LPG wholesalers and composite LPG cylinder manufacturers in Africa.

Unfortunately, there has been a drought of investments in South Africa’s capital market, forcing startups like Bluedrop to seek funding from foreign markets. These are opportunities that should be available for local entrepreneurs and investors, but these opportunities end up being transferred to markets like New York and London.

Government has to re-energise local markets, it needs to offer incentives to local investors to unleash local capital, which will encourage foreign investors to invest in South Africa and reduce risk exposure to foreign investors. Otherwise, local capital will continue to flow to foreign markets, which makes firms such as ours have incentives to co-invest with local partners. Co-investment goes beyond just capital, co-investing with local partners allows for the creation of an intellectual highway of ideas, and unlocks more opportunities, all of which fosters cooperation and helps local economies grow exponentially.”

Sassoon added, “We are in the process of negotiations to secure bulk offtakes for Bluedrop from LPG Suppliers in the US to complement and fulfill critical aspects of Bluedrop’s value chain and strategy. The US is a major producer of LPG therefore in J. Sassoon, Bluedrop has the right partners to help them source product from a market spoilt with abundance of this critical energy source.”

J. Sassoon expects to help raise up to $100 million (R1,4 billion) in private placement funding for Bluedrop’s second round of funding for its pre-IPO campaign before its shares float on the NYSE. J. Sassoon Group is advising Bluedrop on its planned initial public offering in collaboration and consultation with its U.S. based industry partners and a local broker-dealer firm in South Africa.

Kenneth Maduna, CEO, Bluedrop Energy

Bluedrop’s CEO, Mr. Kenneth Maduna remarked, “The listing on the stock market will elevate our profile within the energy sector and investment community. It will surely expand our investor base. It is a value accretive step in the growth of Bluedrop as a relatively new entrant in the energy markets and it fits in perfectly with our acquisitive growth strategy. We have a very good launch project and it gives us leverage to build an impressive asset base within this high growth market of LPG in South Africa and the SADC region. We are also humbled by the outpouring of support from the South African government and various sector entities. It gives us great confidence in our business to know that our government and our partners share our vision of LPG being at the critical nerve-center of the country’s energy future.”

Mr. Bruce Fein, J. Sassoon Group CEO, commented, “Bluedrop is a Cinderella story that is still in the making for South Africa’s markets. We remain committed to our agreement with Bluedrop and its success. This is the time for South Africa to shine and grow.”

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South African gas start-up, Bluedrop, receives major funding

Financial close heralds start of construction of a modern state-of-the-art Liquefied Petroleum Gas cylinder manufacturing plant.

Bluedrop expected to create 110 direct jobs

April 2021 – Johannesburg-based South African start-up Bluedrop, has secured an R300-million investment from J. Sassoon Group, a US, Washington DC-based private equity fund, for their Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinder manufacturing plant, in the west of Johannesburg, South Africa. The project is expected to create 110 direct jobs during construction and 35 direct jobs at full commercial operation. Using the highest standards in manufacturing processes along with the latest technology, and raw materials designed to reduce carbon footprint, Bluedrop will be setting a new standard for South Africa’s gas cylinder manufacturing.

Among the many challenges facing the project was that Bluedrop was in a pre-revenue stage in an incredibly competitive and highly regulated industry. However, J. Sassoon Group’s solution-driven management approach complements start-ups’ strengths while strengthening their weakness by utilising its own global network. In addition to assisting with sourcing global engineering firms for the construction, J. Sassoon’s external consultants and accounting service firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC), is providing consultancy and advisory services to the project.

Upon succeeding his grandfather as the chairman of the board, David E. Sassoon has taken a keen interest in Africa, continuing the family’s historical relationship with the continent, particularly South Africa. Bluedrop is the optimum start-up to reengage the African market. David E. Sassoon personally mentored and guided Bluedrop through the complexity of the financing phase. The firm financially engineered the mezzanine finance deal to reduce borrowing costs in addition to a twelve-month payment holiday, enabling Bluedrop to accelerate growth and optimise success.

Bruce Fein, J. Sassoon Group’s CEO explained that Bluedrop is the first pre-revenue start-up in Africa that J. Sassoon Group has invested in:

“Our focus is on start-ups, entrepreneurs and midmarket companies. Bluedrop is the type of forward-facing, energetic company we are looking for. We are confident that this is a value accretive investment”

Bruce Fein, J. Sassoon Group’s CE

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Commenting on the transaction, Bluedrop’s Chief Financial Officer Kenneth Maduna said, “As an independent 100% black-owned company, we are ecstatic with the investment made by J. Sassoon Group more so for showing their confidence in us and South Africa as an investment destination.” Construction of the manufacturing plant is expected to commence in Q4 2021 and will take 12-14 months to complete.

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