Smile Telecoms raises $365 million in debt and equity financing


Smile Telecoms, an African telecommunication company that operates, has raised $365 million (R5bn) in new debt and equity financing. The new funding consists of $50 million of equity fund raised from South Africa’s Public Investment Corp (PIC) on behalf of the Government Employees Pension Fund and another part consisting of $315, multi-tranche, multi-jurisdictional debt faciltiy led by African Export-Import Bank along with other participants like Development Bank of Southern Africa, Diamond Bank PLC, Ecobank Nigeria, the PIC, the Industrial Development Corp and Standard Chartered Bank.


Founded in 2007, Smile is pan-African telecommunication group based in Mauritius functioning in Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo. Smile uses the best and innovative technologies to offer its users with the best, fast, reliable, high quality, easy to use and affordable services. Now, it has more than 100000 subscribers in three markets, but yet to meet the point where it can offer national coverage.

With the new funding round, the shareholders’ list now consists of Al Nahla Group, a Saudi Arabian-based company, which is the majority shareholder; Renven Investment Holdings, a pan-African investment vehicle, in which Nigerian investors, including the Obijackson Group, are the majority; Verene, representing Smile senior management and social entrepreneurs from South Africa; Telecom Investments, a Saudi Arabian investment company; Capitalworks, an active alternative management company, specialising in investment in the African mid-market; the PIC; and Smile employees.

The newly raised funds would be used to finish a “multiprotocol label switching” network, set up in London, a network point of presence and to develop international backhaul services. One portion of the funds will be used for the operational expenses and other working capital requirement, said Irene Charnley, founder and CEO of the company. It took the Smile three years to complete this funding totals to bring about $600 million. Also, this funding makes the company ‘fully funded.’ The company may be opened to public in the line of three years depending on the sharemarket the company may consider.

Charnley said, “Now that we are fully funded to deliver national coverage of unrivaled super-fast internet access and clear voice services, our priority is to ensure that our customers experience and benefit from the power of high-speed mobile broadband compared to the narrow band services available to data, including how to effectively manage the superior experience in terms of data consumption.”

Smile’s ultimate aim is to become the broadband provider of choice for super-fast data and clear voice in each of its markets and to provide more than 300 million potential customers in its four countries of operation with a fast, reliable and high quality platform ¬†boost development and generate more revenue. Also, this funding is one of the biggest funding amount raised by any telecommunication operator in Africa.