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Old Mutual unit becomes MetroFibre Networx’s biggest shareholder

Jan-Jan Bezuidenhout.jpg

An African investment group has increased its stake in South African broadband internet provider MetroFibre Networx to 37%, making it the biggest shareholder.

African Infrastructure Investment Managers (AIIM), part of the Old Mutual financial services group, said this investment will provide the company with the capital necessary to achieve its growth ambitions.

“We continue to pursue innovative approaches to address South Africa’s connectivity shortfalls and are pioneering unique solutions that cater to customers with different needs,” said MetroFibre’s CEO, Jan-Jan Bezuidenhout (pictured).

Thor Corry, AIIM’s investment director, said: “MetroFibre has accelerated roll-out to a point where it is now one of the largest South African fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) players by homes passed, but there remains a long way to go to address connectivity shortfalls in the country.”

The deal was completed after the approval of the regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Bezuidenhout said that MetroFibre “has accelerated its fibre rollout with over 350,000 homes passed” as of the end of April, “and we are aiming to pass an additional 500,000 homes by 2025”.

Last year the company borrowed 2.5 billion rand (US$169 million) to expand its open-access fibre network across the country. UK/South African bank Investec, which arranged the loan, said that MetroFibre will use the financing to extend its fibre connectivity into under-served homes and businesses.

In this latest investment AIIM was working alongside a consortium comprising South African Housing & Infrastructure Fund (SAHIF) and STOA Infra & Energy, a French investor.

The stake was previously held by Sanlam Private Equity, African Rainbow Capital and a minority shareholder.

Bezuidenhout said the company is looking at “a pay-as-you-go model for underserved areas and packages which suit those who only require intermittent use, removing the need to commit to lengthy contracts”.

He said: “This is particularly important for affordable housing estates and residential areas with high rental occupancy where customers want to avoid being tied into long-term contracts or don’t need an ‘always on’ service. We welcome the changes in the shareholder base and look forward to growing the business with their support.”

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