LIQUID Telecom, the largest business created by pan-African businessman Mr Strive Masiyiwa when he left Zimbabwe over 20 years ago, has concluded its second largest acquisition in South Africa.
On Friday Liquid Telecom and the Standard Bank Group announced that Liquid had completed its acquisition from Standard Bank of a Data Centre business owned by Africa’s largest bank, for an undisclosed fee.
The data center business provides specialist services to Standard Bank and several banks in South Africa. It is considered the largest business of its kind in the whole of Africa.
Africa Data Centres (ADC), subsidiary of Liquid Telecom, was the buyer of the asset that strongly positions the company as it spreads its own wings into the rest of Africa. ADC has operations in South Africa and East Africa, and is currently building in Nigeria and Ghana.
The transaction is understood to have taken over a year to conclude as the South African competition regulators reviewed Liquid’s massive presence in the country’s data center business. ADC is considered Africa’s largest player in the emerging data centers industry.
Mr Masiyiwa was the first businessman to spot the opportunity presented by data centers in Africa, just as he did on fibre optics. Using Liquid’s balance sheet, he borrowed over $750 million through the Irish Stock Exchange four years ago, and also brought in equity investors, including the UK government’s Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC), which invested over $300 million in the business. Other investors are thought to have injected more than $500 million.
ADC builds what the industry refers to as “hyper scale facilities”, which are targeted at very large customers who have a need to process large amounts of data. These are usually multinational corporations from Silicon Valley and China, as well as very large banks.
ADC is not a consumer business, but typically for large enterprises of the scale not seen today in much of Africa, except in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt.