SOUTH AFRICA – Actis, an investment firm, has agreed to acquire a 100% stake in Swiftnet, a leading telecom tower portfolio in South Africa, from Telkom for around US$355 million.

Swiftnet is a strategic acquisition for Actis, which will see it acquire over 4,000 sites across the country.

Actis says the deal allows it to “invest in a growing sector, with strong secular tailwinds and an increasing need for tower densification driven by increasing internet penetration and the transitions from 3G and 4G to 5G.

Actis has ambitions to create a leading independent Towerco and deepen its relationship with South Africa’s mobile operators.

The acquisition of Swiftnet is Actis’ latest exciting investment in the digital infrastructure sector in South Africa. Our strategy is to position Swiftnet as the leading independent towerco in this market,” David Cooke, partner at Actis said.

Providing the infrastructure to deliver universal telecommunications access across the country, including the roll-out of 5G connectivity, presents great growth prospects. Our deep understanding of the region and our global network of towers expertise provide the basis to create a strong performing platform with scale-up opportunities.

“We have a great track record investing in South African and digital infrastructure and look forward to working with the Swiftnet management team to unlock more success and growth going forward.”

In a release announcing the acquisition, Actis said Swiftnet is well-positioned to meet the demands of mobile network operators as they seek to expand coverage in rural areas.

South Africa has been reeling from power outages for years now, and mobile operators have shifted attention from site roll-out to site resilience,” Matt Edwards, managing director at TowerXchange said of the deal.

MTN recently reduced their rollout plan from 500 to just 50, creating a challenging dynamic for newer towercos to win build-to-suit business.

“Telkom will be pleased to have offloaded its power challenges to a new partner, and to have another towerco that can build sites as and when demand arises.”

The investment builds on Actis’ existing digital infrastructure portfolio in South Africa, having invested in fibre network operator Octotel in 2020.

The transaction is the company’s second investment into telecom towers this year following the recent acquisitions of a macro tower portfolio in the Western Balkans, comprising about 1,8000 macro towers in Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro.

This is Actis’ ninth investment in the digital infrastructure sector, with more than US$1.5 billion currently committed to the sector.

The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and closing conditions.

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