French investor buys stake in SA's Metro Fibre
French-based joint stock company STOA has acquired a 23.08% significant minority stake in South African open access fibre network operator, Metro Fibre Networx.
Metro Fibre is a high growth emerging player in SA's fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) and fibre-to-the-business (FTTB) markets.
STOA is a joint stock French company owned by Caisse des D'ep^ots and Agence Francaise de D'eveloppement with a capital base of EUR600 million earmarked for investments in equity and quasi equity in developing and emerging countries in the power, telecommunications and transportation sectors, with a strong focus on Africa.
Established in 2010, Metro Fibre started operations as a fibre connectivity provider to South African medium-to-large companies.
Over the last eight years, Metro Fibre has expanded its service offering to both residential and corporate customers in line with its strategic objective of being a diversified operator.
The company owns its core network which is a globally compliant Carrier Ethernet 2.0 open access network. Metro Fibre's growth plans include establishing a national network that will continue to focus on FTTH and FTTB customers.
In 2015, Metro Fibre launched its FTTH offering, focusing on the northern suburbs of Johannesburg and Pretoria in the Gauteng Province. The FTTH segment has seen homes passed growth in excess of 216% compound annual growth rate (CAGR) and connected homes growth in excess of 151% CAGR since inception.
In November 2017, Metro Fibre's shareholders and management embarked on a capital expenditure (capex) expansion drive which would see the company invest over R2 billion in its core network, to enhance its FTTH and FTTB offering.
To support the capex expansion plan, the current shareholders, which include Sanlam Life Insurance through its Sanlam Private Equity division and African Rainbow Capital Investment, agreed to contribute additional equity capital as well as attract a new investor to Metro Fibre's shareholder group.
Commenting on the transaction, Metro Fibre CEO, Steve Booysen, says: "In support of President Cyril Ramaphosa's drive to bring foreign direct investment to South Africa, Metro Fibre is delighted to be attracting STOA's equity investment not only into our business, but into the broader South African economy.
"For our customers, this transaction means greater access to quality and reliable fibre Internet infrastructure and related products. For our colleagues, this transaction means greater career prospects as the business grows, and most significantly, it will result in the further creation of employment opportunities in a country that has one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world."
"The telecommunications sector is a significant driver of economic growth and has direct social impact through the improvement of fast and affordable internet access in Africa," says Marie-Laure Mazaud, Deputy CEO of STOA.
"Thus, broadening our portfolio into the telecommunications sector is a natural step for STOA whose objective is to foster socio-economic development in African countries and reduce digital bridge amongst others.
"This transaction, which is our third investment in a major infrastructure project, will allow us to collaborate with a strong fibre operator in South Africa and to support a fast-growing company in a dynamic market with increasing demand. We are really confident with our partnership with Metro Fibre and are looking forward to supporting the management to take advantage of new opportunities, reach a critical size and bring top tier connectivity to homes and businesses in the country."