AP TOWERS HOLDINGS PTE LTD
Invested into Apollo Towers: US$21 million
Date of initial investment: 29 July 2015
Date of merger to form AP Towers: 23 January 2020
Effective interest in AP Towers held by MIL: 4.1%
Business attraction / Investment thesis
Independent telecom tower companies (“ITC”s) build, own, and maintain telecommunication towers and power infrastructure where they then lease spaces on the towers to Mobile Network Operators (“MNO”s)and Internet Service Providers (“ISP”s). This creates an infrastructure sharing model that allows network operators to dramatically reduce capital expenditure, while the ITCs 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 ITCs, rather than MNOs as has been the case in all other markets, and supported by proximity regulations that limit duplicate towers in a district. This separation between ITCs and MNOs is unique to Myanmar and provides much higher 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 ITC.
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 MNO MPT, 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, the US headquartered private equity Group.
By building and managing telecom tower infrastructure, AP Towers is connecting the vast and fragmented Myanmar. Prior to Apollo’s start, 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 22,000 towers. AP Towers is well-positioned to construct and manage a considerable share of this.
MIL led a syndicated US$30 million equity investment into Apollo in July 2015 of which US$20 million was from MIL’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 MIL 4 and an unconnected third-party owns the remaining 0.7%. MIL 4’s ownership in AP Towers is 6.2% providing MIL with a 4.1% ownership stake.