Smile Telecoms injects $ 365m to expand its 4G-LTE network operations in Africa

Smile Telecoms Ltd
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Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd, which owns and operates mobile wireless 4G LTE broadband networks in the 800MHz band in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, announced that it raised $ 365 million of debt and equity financing. According to Biztech Africa, this funding will be used to expand Smile’s existing 4G LTE mobile broadband networks and services. As we’ve reported before, the company also wants to invest in Voice over LTE (VoLTE) by the end of 2015, in order to match the national coverage comparable to the largest 3G network in each of its current countries of operation. The same investment will be used to launch a new broadband network in Democratic Republic of Congo early next year.
The funding is comprised of $ 50 million of equity, raised from the Public Investment Corporation on behalf of Government Employees Pension Fund (“PIC”), and a $ 315 million 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.
This means Smile has 6 Shareholders which include:
  1. Al Nahla Group, a Saudi Arabia-based company, which is the majority shareholder
  2. Renven Investment Holdings, a pan-African investment vehicle, in which Nigerian investors
  3. Telecom Investments, a Saudi Arabian-based investment company
  4. Capitalworks, an active alternative management company, specialising in investment in the African mid-market
  5. The Public Investment Corporation on behalf of Government Employees Pension Fund (“PIC”),
  6. Smile employees.
Irene Charnley, Chief Executive Officer of Smile, said,
[signoff icon=”quote-circled”]“Now that we are fully funded to deliver national coverage of unrivalled super-fast internet access and clear voice services, our priority is to ensure that our customers experience and benefit from the power of high-speed mobile broadband compared to the narrowband services available to date, including how to effectively manage the superior experience in terms of data consumption.”[/signoff]
The telecom Vendors that have been approved under the terms of this funding are  Alcatel Lucent and Ericsson that will accelerate the national network roll-out, including equipment and services and 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.
Sheikh Mohammed Sharbatly, Deputy Chairman of Smile, said,
[signoff icon=”quote-circled”]“I have recently had the joy of using the Smile network in Nigeria, and the quality is better than what we experience in the United Kingdom and in Saudi Arabia. By licensing 800MHz spectrum for commercial use at an early stage relative to many other countries, including high-income ones, the governments of Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and the DRC have each demonstrated commitment to be at the forefront of the broadband revolution and to accelerate development and GDP growth, and we commend them.”[/signoff]
Smile Telecoms aims 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 fast, reliable and high quality platform to accelerate development and wealth creation.
Dr Daniel Matjila, Chief Executive Officer of the PIC, said:

[signoff icon=”quote-circled”]“We are excited about our investment in Smile Telecoms as it provides us with an opportunity to accelerate and realise our mandate to invest in the rest of the African continent. Telecommunications is one of the key drivers for economic growth and its importance cannot be overemphasised.”[/signoff]