Zimbabwe News

Edd Branson mobilises $100 million for African telecoms sector

Zimbabwean businessman and investor Edd Branson has entered the mobile telecommunications space with a 100 million fund to buy equity in African GSM operators.

Branson and his consortium are eyeing a controlling stake with 3 bullish bids on African GSM operators.

Documents obtained revealed that Branson had placed a combined USD 30 million bid for a leveraged buyout on embattled GSM operators in Gambia, Benin, and Chad with the deals now at different stages.

Branson is leading a consortium of investors under the New York-based Afri-USA Business Initiative.

The African mobile network space is dominated by 6 players namely Vodacom, Telefonica, Airtel, Orange, and Beeline which are not indigenous African companies and MTN is the only indigenous giant in the GSM space worth $ 13 billion. An insider revealed that Branson’s consortium had major interests in Benin’s telecom market which continues to be restricted by the poor condition of the country’s fixed-line infrastructure, and the consortium had deployed funds for Benin’s fiber infrastructure development.

The insider also revealed that Chad was on their radar with a memorandum of private placement already received. Chad’s telecommunications market is still developing.  Penetration rates in all telephone market sectors are at 40.2% and the Internet at 18%.

Chad’s mobile sector is growing fast because of competition between two foreign-owned networks – Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain), and Millicom which was sold to Morocco Telecom in 2019 (Tigo).  The national telecom and fixed-line operator, Sotel Tchad, operates the country’s third mobile network.  The mobile networks offer basic mobile data services using GPRS and EDGE technology as well as 3G/4G the entry of Branson and his consortium into the market would be a game changer.

In Gambia, the consortium has identified an embattled entity with talks of the consortium taking over a 49% stake in the company already at advanced stages.

The Afri-USA Business Initiative has pulled major resources towards the mobile telecommunications space with hedge funds and an investment bank contributing to the $100 million war chest mobilized by Branson.

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