Liquid raises $840 million for growth strategy

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Liquid Telecom has completed one of the largest dollar bond sales by an African telecoms company, raising US$840 million.

The fund comprises a $620 million bond and a $220 million equivalent South African Rand term loan. The money will be used to pay down existing debt and increase access to broadband services, Liquid said.

The bond, launched by Liquid Telecommunications Financing PLC on 22 February, attracted more than 230 investor orders, including anchor orders from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) – which invested $100 million in the bond – DEG and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund.

The order book, which totalled $3.2 billion, was more than five times oversubscribed helping to drive a coupon rate of 5.5%. the group’s debut bond coupon in July 2017 came in at 8.5%.

CFO Kate Hennessy said in a statement: "We are very pleased, considering the challenging times we are in, that investors in the international debt markets have supported us with such a successful refinance.

"The level of interest from high quality investors has been unprecedented for an African issuer and reflects the confidence that investors have in the future growth strategy for the group as we address under developed telecommunications and internet access across Africa.”

Owned by Strive Masiyiwa’s Econet Global, Liquid's first fibre went in the ground in 2009 and since then the fibre network has grown to cover more than 73,000km, which Liquid said is the continent’s largest independently owned network. Liquid was the first to establish a direct terrestrial communication link between Cape Town and Cairo and in subsea, Liquid is a Consortium member in SAT3/SAFE, WACS, TEAMS and EASSy, and a large IRU inventory holder in SEACOM, as well as a shareholder in WIOCC.

Data centre assets include facilities in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Nairobi, with a combined potential 19,000 square metres of rack space and 78 MW of power.