Home entertainment and pay TV operator Wananchi Group has raised $130 million from its existing and new investors in an expansion drive across East and southern Africa.
Altice and Liberty Global participated in the round as well Helios Investment Partners, a new investor.
According to Richard Bell, Wananchi’s Vice Chairman said “The new capital investment will be used to consolidate the group’s market leadership in East Africa and to extend our services across East and Southern Africa. We will continue the deployment of fiber to the home networks in more cities in East Africa and extend our business services networks and product offerings across a wide variety of geographies and market segments. With our stronger balance sheet we will also invest in exciting new technologies and service platforms to improve the quality of our products and deliver a superior experience for our customers.”
Founded in 2008, Wananchi Group Holdings offers Pay TV services, residential fibre broadband and telephone services in Kenya and East Africa. It also offers corporate services as Simbanet, Alldean and Isat across East Africa and beyond. The raise will help it achieve its major vision in the region.
The firm in August announced it had embarked on a Ksh 220 million network upgrade to improve speeds and reduce downtime by the end of this month. The firm also said the upgrade will lay basis for the provision of speeds of up to 50Mbps for its Nairobi customers.
Last year, Wananchi Group announced plans to raise between Sh4.3 billion ($50 million) and Sh8.7 billion ($100 million) to aid in the expansion of its cable business in Tanzania and Uganda before the end of 2014.The firm had also drawn expansion plans into Malawi.
In 2011, Wananchi was able to raise $57.5mn in growth capital from investors including Liberty Global, Oppenheimer Funds, Canada-based emerging markets fund manager Sarona Asset Management, and African private equity firm East Africa Capital Partners. The $57.5 million worth of growth capital was to extend deployment of its Nairobi-based fibre network to other parts of the country and expansion into Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia by 2015.
US-based firm Liberty Global Inc, Oppenheimer Funds and Sarona Asset Management, a Canadian emerging markets fund manager known for its ‘impact investments’ led the round joined by existing Wananchi investors private equity firm East Africa Capital Partners (EACP) and Emerging Capital Partners (ECP), a Pan-African private equity firm.
“Our vision is to become the leading pay-TV, broadband internet and VoIP services provider in East Africa. We welcome the support of new investors Liberty Global and Sarona as well as continued support from our existing shareholders, EACP and Emerging Capital Partners and look forward to working together to achieve our collective goal,” said Wananchi CEO Richard Bell.
It’s major competitor and market leader DStv has a huge war chest that the money Wananchi is raising and DStv has also already launched and expanded in many of these African markets. Wananchi’s only power is on its home and office internet services which are popular among the youth regionally.
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Wananchi Group, owners of the Zuku Fiber, Zuku pay TV and Simbanet business services brands, today announced the closure of a $130m financing to fund its growth and expansion in East and Southern Africa.
“The new capital investment will be used to consolidate the group’s market leadership in East Africa and to extend our services across East and Southern Africa. We will continue the deployment of fiber to the home networks in more cities in East Africa and extend our business services networks and product offerings across a wide variety of geographies and market segments. With our stronger balance sheet we will also invest in exciting new technologies and service platforms to improve the quality of our products and deliver a superior experience for our customers,” said Richard Bell, Vice Chairman of Wananchi.
The capital investment was co-led by existing Wananchi shareholders including Altice SA, Liberty Global, Emerging Capital Partners (“ECP”) and ATMT and new investors, Helios Investment Partners.
Ali Mufuruki, Chairman of the Board of Wananchi, said, “This is a very exciting time for Wananchi. We have grown tremendously over the six years since we founded the business. The significant size of this investment round is further proof that the markets have confidence in our business strategy and our performance to date. There is no better time than now to invest in African markets and the transformation of the African consumer experience, of which Wananchi is at the forefront in East Africa.”
He added, “I am very pleased to welcome Helios Investment Partners, a highly respected and successful African investor to the Wananchi Group family. I would also like to recognize Altice, Liberty Global, ECP, ATMT of Mauritius, EACP of Kenya, Kew Capital from London, our management and staff, and the Board of Directors of Wananchi that has provided steady guidance and leadership throughout this process.”
Richard Essex, a Partner at shareholder East Africa Capital Partners (“EACP”), added, “We also owe a huge debt of gratitude to the US-government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation who has committed significant capital to support the ongoing growth of the business since Wananchi was established.”
Alykhan Nathoo, a Partner at Helios, stated, “Helios is excited to contribute to this latest growth capital financing for Wananchi. We have been extremely impressed with the significant successes Wananchi has accomplished to date, and look forward to working with the Wananchi team and its existing shareholders to achieve its growth goals.”
“We believe this capital injection will enable the Wananchi Group to extend the coverage of its infrastructure as well as build upon its strong broadband-led triple play product offering, including direct to home satellite products to many more tens of thousands of consumers across the greater Eastern Africa region and beyond,” added Dennis Aluanga, a Partner at Helios based in Kenya.