The UK’s leading independent wireless infrastructure provider has completed a debt fund raising of £220m to accelerate its investments into neutral-host, 5G-ready wireless infrastructure.
Edinburgh-based Wireless Infrastructure Group’s (WIG) new funding package involves three global institutional investors (Met Life, Barings and Vantage) together with three UK banks (Lloyds, Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays). The facilities extend to 12 years and provide WIG with capital that is complementary to its long-term investment horizon.
The new facilities support a significant increase in WIG’s capital expenditure into enabling connectivity in rural and urban areas together with key transport routes across the UK. Over the last year WIG has invested in new infrastructure ranging from communication towers serving rural communities through to high capacity Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) networks in busy city locations such as offices, shopping malls and stadiums, including Liverpool FC’s 54,000 capacity Anfield Stadium.
WIG also recently activated the UK’s first fibre-connected small cell network to support C-RAN technology and is a major investor in Midlands Future Mobility – the UK’s largest real-world test bed for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs). The new funding supports further delivery of new infrastructure with a focus on small cells and fibre.
WIG was advised by Rothschild, Clifford Chance, Dickson Minto and PwC. The banking group was advised by Allen & Overy.
WIG CEO, Scott Coates, commented: “This new capital raise from blue chip institutions has been structured to expand with our growth and enables WIG to operate with a highly competitive cost of capital. The new facilities will be targeted on fibre and small cells to enable better connectivity both inside buildings where 80% of calls are made and along busy city streets.
“Attracting investment with a long-term horizon and neutral-host approach can play a significant role in enabling 5G across the UK. Recent policy initiatives announced in government’s Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review around lightly licensed spectrum and other innovations opens doors for companies like WIG to work with our mobile operator partners to unlock faster investment and enable improved mobile connectivity.”
In July the government published recommendations in its Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review. It proposed changes to ensure the majority of the UK population gets access to 5G, that 15 million premises are able to connect to full fibre broadband by 2025, and provide full fibre broadband coverage across all of the UK by 2033.
Margot James, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, said:
“The measures set out in our Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review will drive the large-scale commercial investment in fixed and wireless networks that is vital for the UK to remain globally competitive in a digital world. Wireless Infrastructure Group’s accelerated investment in 5G ready infrastructure will enable greater connectivity and choice for consumers – I look forward to hearing similar good news from the rest of the industry”.