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  • WIG.png
    Wireless Infrastructure Group
    UK

    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

    During the year, the Company invested a further £190 million in WIG 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 in line with expectations, driven by a stable core business that is underpinned by long term, inflation linked contracts.

    During 2017, WIG supported its customers across existing and new infrastructure as they successfully delivered on their coverage targets.

    WIG has a growing pipeline of opportunities to invest in fibre based neutral-host wireless infrastructure, such as distributed antenna systems and small cells, which can provide multi-operator coverage in densely populated areas such as shopping centres, office blocks and stadiums.

    In Aberdeen, WIG deployed fibre based small cell infrastructure in partnership with Telefonica to create a 5G-ready network. WIG is also part of a consortium that has been awarded government funding to develop the UK’s largest real-world autonomous vehicle test bed in the West Midlands.

    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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