Portfolio
  • WIG.png
    Wireless Infrastructure Group
    UK

    Communications

    Wireless Infrastructure Group

    WIG is the UK's second largest independent tower company and the largest to focus solely on telecom towers. It operates c. 2,000 towers and other wireless infrastructure assets, representing 7% of the UK market.

    WIG is independent of any network operator and invests in shareable infrastructure that is made available to all networks.

    Follow-on investment

    In January 2018, the Company invested a further £186m to acquire co-shareholder Barings’ majority stake and a portion of the management’s holding. This brings the Company’s total ownership in WIG to 93.1%, with management retaining the balance of equity. 

    Developments in the year

    WIG is performing well operationally and financially. Its priority in the coming years will be to work with its customers as they seek to upgrade and extend their networks to improve coverage and capacity. The introduction of 5G is expected to provide further opportunities for WIG.

    WIG has established itself as the market leader in UK Indoor Networks and contracted a record number of systems in the year. WIG acquired Arqiva’s entire UK Indoor Networks portfolio, and now works with 20 of the UK’s largest 30 shopping centres, a growing number of stadium venues such as Anfield, Lord’s and Murrayfield, and large campuses such as King’s Cross, MediaCityUK and Canary Wharf.

    WIG also acquired a small portfolio of towers in Ireland from Highpoint Communications. WIG has been shortlisted for the Transport for London project to deploy a Distributed Antenna System on the London Underground and it is the wireless infrastructure partner to Midlands Future Mobility – the UK’s largest pilot project for testing connected autonomous vehicles across roads in the West Midlands.

    WIG completed a refinancing of its debt on favourable terms, which resulted in a £43.5 million distribution to the Company. The new debt package includes a sizeable capital expenditure facility that provides WIG with the flexibility to deliver organic growth plans and to fund further acquisitions.

    Market

    The market outlook is favourable for tower companies as they support network customers in their projects to expand coverage in rural areas and densify networks and urban and suburban areas. Policy makers and mobile operators are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of independently operated communications infrastructure and the market share of the independent tower sector continues to rise across Europe. The independent tower sector is also set to play a major role in supporting the deployment of 5G and the additional infrastructure this will require.

    Investment rationale

    In June 2016 3i Infrastructure acquired a 36% economic interest in WIG investing approximately £75 million and joining existing majority shareholder Barings Alternative Investments (formerly known as Wood Creek Capital Management) and the management team as shareholders.

    In January 2018, 3i Infrastructure plc completed its £186m further investment in WIG and acquired the stake owned by Barings LLC’s client accounts (“Barings), increasing its ownership to 91% of WIG’s equity, with the balance held by management.

    This investment diversifies the Company’s portfolio with exposure to a growing communications infrastructure business. Communication towers are critical pieces of infrastructure that are largely agnostic to technological change. The cash flows generated by the business are inflation-linked and are underpinned by long-term contracts. With its scalable platform and track record of building new infrastructure and making accretive acquisitions, WIG is well placed to target further growth in the UK and across Europe.

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