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Smile Raises USD365 Million to Accelerate its LTE Network Expansion in Africa

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Smile Telecoms Holdings, which owns and operates LTE networks in the 800MHz band in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda, announced that it raised USD365 million of debt and equity financing.

The funding will be used to expand Smile's existing LTE networks, such that by the end of 2015, Smile will offer clear voice services and have national coverage comparable to the largest 3G network in each of its current countries of operation.

Smile will also launch its broadband network in Democratic Republic of Congo ("DRC") early in 2016.

The funding is comprised of USD50 million of equity, raised from the Public Investment Corporation on behalf of Government Employees Pension Fund ("PIC"), and a USD315 million multi-tranche, multi-jurisdictional debt facility led by African Export-Import Bank.

This brings the total funding committed to Smile since its founding in 2007 to approximately USD600 million.

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.

Smile's shareholders now comprise 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 Smile employees.

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Tags: smile telecoms holdings  Nigeria  Tanzania  Uganda