Singtel has entered into an agreement with its regional associate Bharti Airtel (Airtel) to invest US$250 million in Airtel Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Airtel with operations in 14 African countries.
Singtel holds a 39.5% effective stake in Airtel. This investment forms part of US$1.25 billion that Airtel has secured from global investors, including Temasek, Warburg Pincus and Softbank Group International, through a primary equity issuance in Airtel Africa, at a post money equity value of US$4.4 billion. The proceeds will be used to reduce Airtel Africa’s existing debt and grow its business ahead of an intended Initial Public Offering.
Airtel Africa is the second largest telecom operator in the continent with a customer base of 91 million. It ranks among the top two operators in most of its 14 markets and has been delivering healthy revenue growth in voice and data services. It has also performed strongly in its mobile wallet service, Airtel Money, which has 11.8 million subscribers.
Arthur Lang, CEO of Singtel’s International Group, said, “Our investment into Airtel Africa reflects our confidence in the long-term growth potential of Africa with its young and growing population. For many of Airtel Africa’s customers, the mobile phone is the key enabler for digital and financial inclusion. As Airtel continues to execute on its transformation strategy to become a leader in data and mobile money in Africa, we believe it is in a strong position to benefit from increasing smartphone penetration and mobile money adoption.”
The African continent is projected to be the world’s second-fastest growing economic zone and the fastest growing mobile market with unique mobile subscribers expected to increase from 420 million at the end of 2016 to more than half a billion by 2020. As only 25% of Africa’s population has access to formal banking services, mobile money has filled the gap and become the engine for financial inclusion for both individuals and small businesses.