Millennium invests in FRiENDi mobile

The Middle Eastern private equity firm has done its debut deal from is maiden $1bn telecom, media and technology-focused fund.

Millennium Private Equity, a subsidiary of Dubai-based investment bank Millennium Finance Corporation, has acquired an undisclosed stake in FRiENDi mobile, a Dubai-based mobile service provider. The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Millennium made the investment from the $1 billion (€703 million) Telecom Media Technology (TMT) Fund. This was the first investment from the TMT Fund, which invests in products and services in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, to address the mismatch between penetration levels of TMT products and the high demand for the same.

FRiENDi mobile is a Mobile Virtual Network Operator, providing mobile services to customers without the allocation of spectrum. The company is looking to accelerate its expansion across the region.

Post-transaction, Izzet Güney, senior executive officer of Millennium Private Equity and and fund manager for its TMT Fund, will join FRiENDi mobile’s board of directors.

This is the second round of private equity funding for the company this year. Draper Fisher Jurvetson spin-out ePlanet Ventures led a round of funding in the company in March.

Millennium’s TMT Fund saw a first close on $150 million in April this year. Initial investors included the Dubai Islamic Bank, United Gulf Bank and the multilateral development financing institution Islamic Development Bank, each of which committed $50 million to the fund.

In the same month, the firm held a first close on $200 million for its Global Energy Fund. The firm is looking to raise a total of $5 billion across seven sector-focused funds, the other five of which will are yet to be launched and will focus on clean technology, mining, Africa, real estate, and health and education.

Millennium Private Equity made its first investment at the beginning of 2008 when it invested $100 million in Bharti Infratel, a wireless telecom tower infrastructure provider and subsidiary of Indian telecommunication company Bharti Airtel. The investment was part of a $1.25 billion placement in the company. Other investors in the deal included private equity firms and banks such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, India Equity Partners, AIF Capital, Temasek Holdings, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Macquarie Bank.
Millennium’s investment in Bharti Infratel was made through a fund that had as its only investor the Investment Corporation of Dubai, the investment arm of the Dubai government.