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African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), an infrastructure-focused private equity fund manager, has acquired a minority equity stake in open access fibre network operator, MetroFibre Networx, through the newly incorporated Digital Infrastructure Investment Holdings platform.

AIIM’s R980 million investment forms part of a R1.5 billion equity funding round to support Metrofibre’s capital expansion plan, which exceeds R3 billion over the coming three years and will further enhance the company’s empowerment positioning, a joint statement said.

Existing shareholder STOA, a foreign investment vehicle based in France, is providing incremental funding as part of the transaction together with new investment by the founders of the South African Housing & Infrastructure Fund (SAHIF), Rali Mampeule and Kameel Keshav.

The transaction sees AIIM, STOA and SAHIF partner with remaining shareholders of MetroFibre, including Sanlam Private Equity and African Rainbow Capital.

MetroFibre, which launched in 2010, is a player in South Africa’s Fibre-To-The-Home (FTTH) and Fibre-To-The-Business (FTTB) markets. the company owns and manages its core network which is a globally compliant Carrier Ethernet 2.0 open access network.

AIIM is a member of Old Mutual Alternative Investments (OMAI) It said that its investment, through its IDEAS Managed and AIIF3 Funds, will support MetroFibre’s plans to densify its network in existing areas and expand its offering to an additional 300,000 residential homes across cities and towns nationwide over the next three years.

Existing shareholder STOA, a French investment holding with a capital base of EUR600 million backed by Caisse des Dépôts (CDC) and the Agence Française de Développement (AFD), earmarked for investments in equity and quasi equity in emerging countries in the telecommunications, power and transportation sectors, also followed its equity rights and participated to this new capital raise in MetroFibre.

Marie-Laure Mazaud, deputy CEO of STOA, said: “This transaction materialises the company’s efforts combined with the active support and expertise of STOA investment team in managing, alongside the management, the fund-raising process to ensure qualitative, fruitful and solution-oriented interactions between all the parties involved.

“STOA’s further equity investment in MetroFibre as part of this new funding round confirms our long-term commitment to the deployment of affordable, reliable and fast connectivity in Africa.”

MetroFibre CEO, Steve Booysen, said: “The successful capital raise will enable MetroFibre to continue with its growth strategy and explore acquisition opportunities, connecting customers with the global economy through a reliable and fast connection.

“In addition to our organic growth plan, the successful capital raise ensures that MetroFibre is well placed to play a leading role in the sector’s consolidation process, given our strong leadership and operational teams, as well as significant shareholders of reference.”

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