Wananchi Group Holdings, East Africa’s leading provider of PayTv, broadband internet and VoIP services, today announced that it has raised US$57.5million in growth capital from a group of international investors.
Wananchi presently services the retail and corporate markets in East Africa through its consumer and corporate divisions. Wananchi's consumer division operates under the ‘Zuku’ brand and provides Kenya’s only ‘triple-play’ bundle including 100 channels PayTV, broadband Internet (with speeds from 1MB to 20MB) on the Docis 3 platform, and VoIP phone services. Wananchi's corporate division, which operates under the ‘SimbaNET’ brand, is a leading provider of VSAT and data solutions to corporations in greater East Africa.
The capital raised in the financing will be used to continue the deployment of the company’s fiber infrastructure over which it presently offers its triple-play service bundles to retail consumers in Kenya. In addition, the capital will be used to support the launch of Wananchi’s direct-to-home (DTH) satellite PayTV offering in the greater East Africa region to 10 countries; Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Eritrea, South Sudan, Rwanda, Burundi, Malawi and Somalia.
New investors in the financing round include Liberty Global Inc., one of the world’s largest cable companies, Oppenheimer Funds, and Sarona Asset Management, a Canadian-based emerging markets fund manager seeking impact investments. Existing Wananchi investors following on in the round include East Africa Capital Partners (EACP), a leading East African private equity firm focusing on telecoms, media and technology sectors, and Emerging Capital Partners, a leading Pan-African private equity firm with $1.8 billion in capital under management.
Commenting on the announcement, Richard Bell, Wananchi's CEO, said: “Our vision is to become the leading PayTV, broadband internet and VoIP services provider in East Africa. We welcome the support of new investors Liberty Global and Sarona as well as continued support from our existing shareholders, EACP and Emerging Capital Partners and look forward to working together to achieve our collective goal.”
Commenting on the investment, Mark Schneider, EACP’s Chairman said: “To date, Wananchi has been an innovator in the African media and telecoms sector through the deployment of Africa’s first triple-play cable network. With this investment round we continue to fund the innovation and expansion of the cable network and the launch of the DTH platform.”
Commenting on the investment, Bryce Fort, Managing Director at ECP said, “We believe Africa has tremendous growth potential in both the PayTV and broadband internet segments. Wananchi’s cable, DTH and programming platforms combined with its strong management make the company ideally suited to capitalize on this growth by capturing the surplus consumer demand.”
New York based Investment bank Moelis & Company were retained as financial advisors to Wananchi.