Bellringer for Wireless Infrastructure as VC backs management buyout deal

Matt Sandoval says European 4G telecoms are 'great opportunity'
Matt Sandoval says European 4G telecoms are 'great opportunity'
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A FIRM which owns mobile phone masts has been sold in a management buy-out deal thought to be worth up to £200 million.

Bellshill-based Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) is now backed by Wood Creek Capital Management, a US-based venture capital firm, after it bought out investors including the Royal Bank Of Scotland and Penta Capita. Lloyds Banking Group has also provided a debt package for the deal, although its value was undisclosed.WIG, which was established 15 years ago, owns, develops and acquires telecommunications masts and manages the land on which they are based.

The firm employs some 50 people in the UK and operates more than 2,000 active sites on behalf of clients including mobile operators EE (formerly Orange and T-Mobile) and Vodafone.

The company says it has contracts with more than 5,000 rural, suburban and urban land-bank sites to place the telecom towers. The firm also sets up income sharing deals with landowners that agree to host masts.

WIG said it expects to expand in the UK and continental Europe as wireless network infrastructure is increasingly outsourced and shared.

Chief executive Scott Coates said the investment would take the firm to “the next level”.

“It is an exciting time for our industry, with 4G [fourth generation] deployments taking off and significant investments in spectrum and network needed across the board.

“With Wood Creek’s backing, we can continue to support our customers with high-quality shared infrastructure solutions as well as growing our asset base as operators look to focus investment on their core networks,” he added.

Matt Sandoval, managing director at Wood Creek, said: “We see a great opportunity across Europe to work with network owners and to help fund new network deployment, either directly or indirectly through tower acquisition.

“Wood Creek invests long-term capital on behalf of some of the world’s largest institutional investors and we will continue to build on our existing commitment to the sector. WIG represents a unique platform to facilitate this growth and we look forward to working with the management team.”

RBS held 43 per cent of the group’s shares, while Glasgow and London-based Penta held 22 per cent.

Simon Sweeney, director at Lloyds Banking group, said WIG was a “longstanding customer of Lloyds”