Richest S. African Man Buys Vumatel Stake in Fiber Expansion

Updated on
  • Unit of Rupert’s Remgro aleady owns Dark Fibre Africa
  • Larger fiber entity could consider stockmarket listing
Johann Rupert

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

A unit of Remgro Ltd. bought part of fiber provider Vumatel Pty Ltd. as South Africa’s richest man seeks a greater share of the country’s expanding broadband network.

Community Investment Ventures Holdings, in which Johann Rupert’s investment vehicle is the biggest shareholder, took a 35 percent stake in the fiber provider and has agreed to take full ownership at a later date, it said in an emailed statement Friday. The company didn’t say how much it will pay. Bloomberg News first reported the deal in March.

CIVH already owns Dark Fibre Africa, which has a network of about 10,000 kilometers (6,214 miles) of fiber, director Peter Uys said by phone. While the new entity could consider a stockmarket listing if it needs to raise funds, there are no plans at this point, he said.

Higher Speeds

“We have been very successful in building an extensive fiber network and by buying Vumatel we will accelerate our fiber-to-the-home business,” he said.

Vumatel, which helped to pioneer the fiber-to-home industry in South Africa after entering the market in 2015, has enough fiber to connect 350,000 houses, said Uys. Households in cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban are increasingly seeking higher speeds and more capacity to handle rising consumption of data for services including video streaming.

Dark Fibre trails Econet Wireless Global Ltd. unit Liquid Telecom in terms of network size. The company has raised 1.25 billion rand ($96 million) in debt funding and extended a revolving credit facility to 1.1 billion rand to fund expansion, according to its website.

Rupert has a net worth of $7.9 billion, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

(Adds Rupert’s wealth in last paragraph.)
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