Apollo Towers

Apollo, as one of the country’s largest telecom tower companies, is benefitting from the rapid expansion of the telecom sector in Myanmar.

Overview

  1. A leading telecommunication infrastructure company managing ~15% of Myanmar’s telecom towers.
  2. Telecom is experiencing rapid growth in Myanmar with strong demand for capacity expansion.
  3. Solid financial backing by global private equity power house TPG Growth and the United States’ Government’s Overseas Private Investment Corporation.
  4. With an impressive management team composed of industry veterans in place, Apollo is uniquely positioned to benefit from the re-emergence of Myanmar.

 APOLLO TOWERS PTE LTD

Invested: US$21 million
Date of investment: 29 July 2015
Effective interest held by MIL: 9.3%

Business Attraction / Investment Thesis

Tower companies (TowerCos) build, own, and maintain telecommunication towers and power infrastructure where they then lease spaces on the towers to Mobile Network Operators (“MNO”) and Internet Service Providers (“ISP”). This creates an infrastructure sharing model that allows network operators to dramatically reduce capital expenditure, while the TowerCos can maximize profits by leasing spaces to multiple customers. The profitability of each tower is secured by an “anchor tenant” with every additional “co-tenant” adding revenue that flows almost directly to the EBITDA.

Tenancy rates in Myanmar are widely expected to exceed every other market in the region as the initial tower roll out is uniquely being led by TowerCos rather than MNOs and supported by proximity regulations that limit duplicate towers. This separation between TowerCos and MNOs is unique to Myanmar and provides high efficiency. Scarce capital and the need for a large tower portfolio to gain economies of scale make Myanmar a very attractive market for a well-financed and well-managed TowerCo.

Company Background

In 2013, facing one of the lowest mobile penetration rates in the world, Myanmar’s government tendered two MNO licenses to foreign companies – Telenor and Ooredoo. Since commencing operations in the summer of 2014, the two MNOs, together with the incumbent, drove mobile penetration from less than 10% to 75%+ by 2017.

Apollo was established in 2013, with the goal of becoming Myanmar’s leading provider of telecommunication infrastructure. Apollo was founded by Sanjiv Ahuja, the former CEO of Orange S.A. and founder of several successful telecom businesses across the globe, and TPG Growth, the middle market and growth equity investment platform of TPG.

By building and managing MNO tower infrastructure, Apollo is connecting the vast and fragmented Myanmar. Prior to Apollo, only 1,800 towers connected Myanmar’s population to mobile telephony. However, to meet the MNO targets of countrywide coverage within the next few years, Myanmar will need up to 30,000 towers. Apollo is well-positioned to construct and manage a considerable share.

Transaction

MIL led a syndicated US$30 million equity investment into Apollo in July 2015 of which US$20 million was from the Company’s own balance sheet. The investment was made through a subsidiary, MIL 4 Limited (“MIL 4”), of which MIL owns 66.7%. LIM Asia Special Situations Master Fund Limited owns 32.7% of MIL4 and an unconnected third-party owns the remaining 0.7%. MIL 4’s ownership in Apollo is 14.0% providing MIL with a 9.3% ownership stake in Apollo.

Result

Since MIL’s investment, Apollo has nearly doubled its tower portfolio to 1,800 towers and secured a US$250 million loan facility from the United States’ Overseas Private Investment Corporation that can expand the company’s portfolio by an additional 2,000 towers over the next few years. Apollo already has long-term service contracts with all the country’s MNOs and stands to significantly increase the number of co-tenants especially with the upcoming entry of Myanmar’s new operator, MyTel, as  well as further upside from the country’s multiple ISPs.

By aggregating MIL’s local knowledge and network with Sanjiv Ahuja’s industry experience and TPG’s access to international capital markets, Apollo is well-positioned to further expand upon its industry leadership. With all the stars aligned, MIL is confident that Apollo will be well regarded as a Myanmar company run to international standards and well suited for a listing on one of the region’s major bourses or a trade sale.

More information can be found on Apollo’s website at http://apollo-towers.com/.