Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd, which owns and operates mobile wireless 4G LTE broadband networks in the 800MHz band in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, raised $365m in debt and equity financing.
The funding is comprised of $50m of equity, raised from the Public Investment Corporation on behalf of Government Employees Pension Fund, and a $315m multi-tranche, multi-jurisdictional debt facility led by African Export-Import Bank with participation from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Diamond Bank PLC, Ecobank Nigeria, the PIC, the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa Limited and Standard Chartered Bank.
Shareholders now include:
– Al Nahla Group, a Saudi Arabia-based company, which is the majority shareholder;
– Renven Investment Holdings, a pan-African investment vehicle, in which Nigerian investors, including the Obijackson Group, are the majority;
– Verene, representing Smile senior management and social entrepreneurs from South Africa;
– Telecom Investments, a Saudi Arabian-based investment company;
– Capitalworks, an active alternative management company, specialising in investment in the African mid-market”;
– the PIC; and
The company intends to use the funds to expand its existing 4G LTE mobile broadband networks and services to offer, by the end of 2015, clear voice services and have national coverage comparable to the largest 3G network in each of its current countries of operation and launch its broadband network in Democratic Republic of Congo early in 2016. Under the terms, the funding will be used to accelerate national network roll-out, including equipment and services provided by Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson, a full MPLS (Multiprotocol Label Switching) network, a London Point of Presence and expanded international backhaul services, and to fund operational expenditure and working capital.
Founded in 2007, incorporated in Mauritius and led by Irene Charnley, Chief Executive Officer, Smile is a pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria (Smile Communications Nigeria), Tanzania (Smile Communications Tanzania), Uganda (Smile Communications Uganda) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Smile Communications DRC) and has an associate company in South Africa.
In 2012, the company launched a 4G LTE commercial network in the 800MHz band (ITU “band 20”) in the East African market, starting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and then Kampala, Uganda. This was followed by the launch of West Africa’s first 4G LTE commercial networks, also in band 20, starting in Ibadan and then Lagos, Nigeria.
Smile’s objective is now to become the broadband provider of choice for super-fast data and clear voice in each of its markets and to provide over 300 million potential customers in its four countries of operation with a high quality platform to accelerate development and wealth creation.