Investment values firm at £300m
3i injects £75m into Scottish telecoms mast builder WIG
3i joins US-based Wood Creek Capital Management and the management team as shareholders.
The investment capitalises the company at £300m and is part of a strategy to substantially scale up its operations. The deal is expected to receive European Commission approval by the end of June.
Scott Coates, chief executive of Wireless infrastructure Group, said 3i’s investment came at “a key moment in the company’s development”.
The company builds and operates communication towers (masts) in rural and suburban areas together with fibre based networks to improve mobile coverage in large buildings and on city streets.
Established in 2006, it is fully independent of any network operator and invests in shareable infrastructure that is made available to all networks on an open and non-discriminatory basis. It has invested in more than 2,000 shared communications towers and other wireless infrastructure across the UK and has expanded recently into the Netherlands and Ireland.
In January 2016 the Company announced plans to invest a further £1 billion in UK infrastructure and has an active investment programme.
Mr Coates said: “Bringing an established European infrastructure investor on board alongside our existing North American partner provides us with the financial capabilities needed to scale up our business through investment in up to £1 billion of new infrastructure.
“This will transform our ability to support our customers as they extend network coverage in rural areas and improve capacity in urban centres.”
He said 3i provided additional long term capital and a partner to enable the firm to expand in the UK and Western Europe.
“The case for independent ownership of upstream broadband infrastructure such as masts and fibre is an increasingly compelling one. In the mobile sector, independently operated infrastructure enables better connectivity, attracts new sources of investment and promotes infrastructure competition in a consolidating telecoms market,” he said.
Ben Loomes, managing partner and co-head of infrastructure, 3i Investments, said it was a pivotal time for the European independent tower sector.
“We have been impressed by the company’s focus on high quality shared infrastructure and its experienced management team,” he said.
Matt Sandoval, managing director at Connecticut-based Wood Creek, part of Babson Capital Management, said WIG is a unique platform in the European independent tower sector.
“We are delighted with the momentum at WIG,” he said.