Wendel raises stake in African towers firm

The French private equity fund manager now holds nearly 35% of Nigeria’s IHS Holding after a capital increase.

Wendel, the Paris-listed investment firm, has invested an additional $100 million in IHS Holding as part of a $242 million capital increase. It now has a stake of almost 35 percent in IHS, having invested a total of $276 million in the firm.

Wendel’s investment was made through its Oranje-Nassau Developpement subsidiary.

Nigeria-headquartered IHS, which was founded in 2001, describes itself as “Africa’s leading independent mobile telecommunications infrastructure provider”. It has 8,500 telecom towers in its portfolio and operations in Nigeria, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire.

The firm provides telecommunications tower infrastructure to mobile network operators in Africa including MTN and Orange. It has more than 1,000 employees and builds, leases and manages telecom towers on its own and on behalf of third parties. It is unlisted, though one of its subsidiaries – IHS Nigeria – is listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

The latest capital increase was also backed by existing shareholders Emerging Capital Partners, the pan-African and international private equity firm, and South Africa’s Investec Asset Management Africa Private Equity and Public Funds. An unnamed Asian sovereign wealth fund also took part.

When Wendel invested $125 million in IHS in October last year – taking its holding above 25 percent – it said that the “very fast growth” of Africa provides “attractive expansion prospects to a long-term investor”.

The African telecom industry is predicted to grow at around 10 percent annually over the coming years, the firm said. The region is also touted to see an increasing mobile penetration rate, which is currently among the lowest in the world at 62 percent of the total population.