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Telecoms firm secures $51m fresh funding

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Pan-African telecommunications group with operations in Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Smile Telecoms Holdings Limited, has disclosed that its restructuring plan has been approved.

This debt restructuring plan sees an injection of fresh money from Smile’s majority shareholder, the Al Nahla, and rescheduling on debt repayment until after March 2022.

APO Group, in a statement deployed on behalf of Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd, informed that the fresh injection of $51 million in funding for operations will enhance Smile’s position in its respective markets and energize its operations while supporting efforts towards achieving better performance.

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In 2015 Smile raised $365-million (R5-billion) in new debt and equity financing – the largest amount of funding raised by a telecoms operator in Africa. This consisted of $50-million of equity funding from the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) on behalf of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund (GEPF) and another part consisting of a $315-million multijurisdictional debt facility led by African Export-Import Bank along with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Diamond Bank plc, Ecobank Nigeria, PIC, the Industrial Development Corp (IDC) and Standard Chartered Bank.

Dailymaverick.co.za had reported that the majority shareholder is the Al Nahla Group, a Saudi Arabian-based company, with 49 per cent of Smile. The PIC is a minority shareholder along with Renven Investment Holdings, a pan-African investment vehicle; Verene, representing Smile senior management and social entrepreneurs from South Africa; Telecom Investments, a Saudi Arabian investment company; Capitalworks, an alternative management company; PIC and Smile employees.

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The report also said PIC has invested both debt and equity into the firm. The equity investment has been impaired for the last two years and is currently worth R322 857 000, according to the latest annual report.

Smile Telecoms Holdings Ltd was founded in 2007, with its head office in England. The company has one of the largest sub-1 GHz 4G LTE commercial networks in Africa, operating in the “future proof’ low band, 800 MHz band, and mid-band.

Smile was the first to launch VoLTE on its network and continued its innovation, introducing SmileVoice, a free mobile app. SmileVoice enables customers with any Android or Apple iPhone device (including those which are not VoLTE-enabled) to make SuperClear voice calls over Smile’s 4G LTE network. Smile was also the first to introduce an Unlimited offering, which enables SuperFast data and SuperClear voice, all on one bundle.

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Smile Telecoms Holdings
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