Smile Telecoms Holdings finalized $365 million of debt and equity financing from a mix of investors and lenders last week. The funding consists of $50 million in equity raised from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), the manager of South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund, with the balance of $315 million being provided as a multi tranche, multi jurisdictional debt facility led by the African Export-Import Bank, with participation from the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Diamond Bank PLC, Ecobank Nigeria, the PIC, the Industrial Development Corp. of South Africa Limited and Standard Chartered Bank.
The Mauritius-incorporated company, which owns and operates mobile wireless 4G LTE broadband networks in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, will use the funding to expand its existing 4G LTE network and service offering in its current countries of operation, matching the coverage currently provided by 3G networks in each by the end of 2015. In addition, Smile will also launch its broadband network in the Democratic Republic of Congo in early 2016.
The funding represents one of the largest capital raises ever for a telecommunications operator in Africa and brings the total funding committed to Smile since its founding in 2007 to approximately $600 million.
Al Nahla Group, a Saudi Arabia-based company, remains Smile’s majority shareholder; others include Renven Investment Holdings, Verene, representing Smile senior management and social entrepreneurs from South Africa, Telecom Investments, the Saudi Arabia-based investment company, alternative investor Capitalworks, the PIC and Smile employees.