Smile Telecoms raises US$365mn for 4G expansion

Smile Teleom Jon Gosier FlickrSmile’s fundraising is one of the largest for a telecommunications operator in Africa. (Image source: Jon Gosier/Flickr)Smile Telecoms Holdings (Smile) has raised US$365mn of debt and equity financing to expand its operations

The company owns and operates mobile wireless 4G LTE broadband networks in Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. The funding will be used to expand Smile’s existing services so that by the end of 2015, the company will offer clear voice services and have national coverage comparable to the largest 3G networks in each of its current countries of operation. Smile will also launch its broadband network in DR Congo in early 2016.

Under the terms, the funding will be used to accelerate national network roll-out, including equipment and services provided by Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson, a full MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) network, a London Point of Presence and expanded international backhaul services, and to fund operational expenditure and working capital.

The funding is comprised of US$50mn of equity and US$315mn in multi-tranche, multi-jurisdictional debt. It is one of the largest sums of capital raised for a telecommunications operator in Africa and brings the total funding committed to Smile since its founding in 2007 to approximately US$600mn.

Irene Charnley, CEO of Smile, said, “Now that we are fully funded to deliver national coverage of unrivalled super-fast Internet access and clear voice services, our priority is to ensure that our customers experience and benefit from the power of high speed mobile broadband compared to the narrowband services available to date, including how to effectively manage the superior experience in terms of data consumption.”

In 2012, the company had launched Africa’s first 4G LTE commercial network in the 800MHz band in the East African market.

twn Are you sure that you want to switch to desktop version?