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Wendel-backed IHS adds 1,100 towers

The African telecom towers business, which is backed by the French investment firm among others, has struck a major deal in Zambia and Rwanda.

IHS Holding, the pan-African telecom towers firm, has acquired more than 1,100 towers in Zambia and Rwanda from Airtel, the Indian telecom business.

The deal strengthens the firm’s presence in the two countries, where it had already acquired almost 1,300 towers in March this year from South African telecom firm MTN.

It now has more than 21,000 towers in total across five African countries, including nearly 1,700 in Zambia and almost 800 in Rwanda. The latest deal is expected to be finalised in the first quarter of 2015.

The deal follows a $2 billion capital increase announced by IHS last month. Wendel, the Euronext Paris-listed investment firm, invested $110 million at the time of the capital raising and has now added a further investment of $85 million.

Wendel has therefore now invested $195 million of the $304 million it committed to invest at the time of the capital raising. In a statement, the firm said it intended to invest an additional $109 million by the middle of next year.

Once its commitments are fully invested, Wendel will have invested a total equity sum of $779 million in IHS and will hold approximately 26 percent of the share capital directly and 36 percent of voting rights together with co-investors.

IHS, which was founded in 2001 and is headquartered in Nigeria, has operations in Nigeria, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire as well as Zambia and Rwanda.

Its strategy involves persuading local operators to transfer their towers to IHS, which then makes them available to other operators looking to extend their network and install relay stations on them.

In addition to Wendel, other investors in IHS include: Emerging Capital Partners, the pan-African fund manager; the International Finance Corporation (IFC); IFC’s Global Infrastructure Fund; US investment bank Goldman Sachs; and African Infrastructure Investment Managers, the Macquarie Group/Old Mutual Investment Group joint venture.