South African fibre telecommunications infrastructure company MetroFibre Networx has raised R2.5-billion in new debt financing, led by Investec, adding to the R1.5-billion recently raised from shareholders.
The money will be used to support MetroFibre’s fibre network roll-out across South Africa, including deploying infrastructure in underserviced homes and businesses. MetroFibre shareholders include African Rainbow Capital, Sanlam Private Equity and African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM). The company is led by former Absa CEO Steve Booysen.
MetroFibre financial director Wayne Edwards said in a statement that there is “massive demand” for fibre broadband in outlying regions in South Africa and that this new capital raise will allow the company to target customers in these areas. The funding agreement builds on an existing relationship between the two companies that dates back to 2016
“Filling that gap makes sense not only from a business perspective, but also from a socioeconomic upliftment standpoint. In a growing and fiercely competitive market, the timely funding arranged by Investec, together with our recent R1.5-billion equity raise, will enable us to take fibre to more individuals and more businesses, giving them the opportunity to participate in the globally connected economy,” Edwards said.
The funding agreement builds on an existing relationship between the two companies that dates back to 2016 when MetroFibre approached Investec for its first-ever round of debt financing.
300 000 homes
The company plans to densify its existing network and reach an additional 300 000 residential homes across the country over the next three years.
“We believe the fibre market has reached a tipping point. People are spending more time in their houses, which has drastically increased the demand for high-bandwidth Internet services, for the purposes of working from home, education and for entertainment,” Edwards said.
TechCentral reported in November 2020 that MetroFibre had raised R1.5-billion in a funding round led by equity fund manager AIIM.
The deal gave AIIM, which invested R980-million, a minority stake in MetroFibre Networx, the quantum of which was not disclosed. The investment was made through the newly incorporated Digital Infrastructure Investment Holdings.
AIIM is a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments and has been investing in the African infrastructure sector since 2000. The investment, through its Ideas Managed and AIIF3 Funds, also saw existing MetroFibre shareholder STOA — a foreign investment vehicle based in France — providing incremental funding as part of the transaction, together with new investment by the founders of the South African Housing & Infrastructure Fund, Rali Mampeule and Kameel Keshav.
MetroFibre was launched in 2010 as a high-growth player in South Africa’s fibre-to-the-home and fibre-to-the-business markets.