African tower firm IHS raises $490 mln to fund expansion

Mon Mar 3, 2014 2:14am EST

* IHS raises $420 mln in equity

* Goldman Sachs among new investors in firm

* Also raises $70 mln in debt from Standard Chartered

DUBAI, March 3 (Reuters) - African phone tower group IHS has raised $420 million in equity and $70 million in debt to fund its expansion across the continent, the company said in a statement on Monday.

Lagos-based IHS Group sold the equity to three new investors - Goldman Sachs, the IFC Global Infrastructure Fund, and African Infrastructure Investment Managers - plus some to existing shareholders. IHS did not provide further details.

The firm, which is close to delisting its Nigerian unit from the Lagos bourse, owns and manages about 10,500 transmitter towers in Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast and has built a further 3,500 for telecommunications operators.

IHS also secured $70 million in senior debt from Standard Chartered Bank and will use this money to expand its operations in Zambia. In December, IHS agreed to buy 1,200 tower sites in Rwanda and Zambia from South Africa's MTN, with MTN become the anchor tenant on these towers for an initial 10 years.

Telecommunications operators in Africa, which often struggle with higher running costs and lower revenue per user than other regions, try to reduce expenditure by pooling or selling their transmitter towers.

IHS will use the money it has raised "to finance acquisitions, help its customers expand coverage and capacity by building new towers and continue investing in alternative energy", the company said in its statement.

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