£575m telecoms deal
3i sells Scots telecoms firm Wireless Infrastructure Group
WIG builds masts in rural areas (pic: Wireless Infrastructure Group)
Edinburgh-based telecom towers operator Wireless Infrastructure Group has been sold in a £387 million deal after 3i group offloaded its 93% stake in the business.
Announcing the sale to Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, 3i Infrastructure said the deal equates to an enterprise value for WIG of £575m once debt is factored in.
The sale price compares to a valuation of £291m on 30 September.
3i invested £75m to acquire a minority interest in WIG in April 2016. In January 2018, the London-listed closed-ended investment company invested a further £187m to increase its equity ownership to the current level.
Over the last three years, WIG, which provides indoor mobile infrastructure to buildings right across the UK, has grown its international footprint through the development of its Dutch and Irish tower portfolios.
Brookfield Infrastructure is a division of Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management.
Scott Coates, CEO of Wireless Infrastructure Group, said: “We are delighted to welcome Brookfield as our shareholder and for the opportunity to partner with large-scale patient capital.
“Brookfield is one of the world’s largest infrastructure investors and its focus on data infrastructure and developing assets that can transform communities, aligns with our ambition to help improve connectivity across the UK.
“After a successful partnership with 3i, this deal marks an opportunity to shift gears for WIG. With the backing of large-scale capital, WIG is now ideally positioned to explore more strategic infrastructure combinations with mobile operators.
“WIG’s industry leading indoor networks already serve buildings with over 1.25 billion visitors a year and this transaction brings us alongside one of the world’s largest real estate owners.”
Richard Laing, chairman of 3i Infrastructure, said: “This transaction delivers exceptional value to shareholders, well above our investment case back in 2016.
“Whilst 3i Infrastructure aims to hold its investments over the longer term, we will sell investments where this generates significant additional value for shareholders. This has been an excellent investment for the Company, despite the relatively short holding period.”
Phil White, managing partner and head of infrastructure, 3i Investments, investment manager of the company, said: “This sale arises unexpectedly but in the context of a changing competitive landscape in the UK mobile towers sector where scale is increasing in importance, with a number of potential tower portfolio transactions anticipated to take place next year.
“In the process of preparing to position WIG for such a transaction, we received a compelling