Plan is to try and replicate in other countries model developed in Brazil
IHS closed five acquisitions in two and a half years — Foto: Reprodução/IHS
IHS, TIM Brasil’s partner in the neutral network company I-Systems, is looking for fiber optic providers and towers to buy in Brazil, other Latin American markets and in Africa, said Fares Nassar, head of Latin American region at IHS.
“We will look at any tower and fiber business,” he said, including the assets that Telecom Italia’s TIM, América Móvil’s Claro and Telefónica’s Vivo will have to sell as a condition imposed by regulators for the purchase of rival Oi’s mobile business. Among the deals in progress is Alloha Fibra, a broadband provider owned by private-equity firm EB Capital.
Mr. Nassar said the company has no interest in a nationwide or international backbone (transport network), only in access network. Alloha has 110,000 km of backbone. In this case, if there is an agreement to buy Alloha, “it would be interesting to slice” the asset, said the executive, who participated in a debate about neutral networks at Futurecom, a telecoms event, on Thursday.
The search for assets includes other Latin American countries. IHS already operates in Colombia and Peru. In Africa, it has a presence in Nigeria – “an interesting market because it has the same population as Brazil and only 3% of houses passed by fiber.” Mr. Nassar’s plan is to try and replicate in these countries the model developed in Brazil. He said there is no interest in investing in data centers, except for small data centers at the ends of the networks.
As for an eventual consolidation of the large neutral network providers, the executive said: “The market demands a much greater speed than any of us can supply. We will cover Brazil, then we will start fighting.”
IHS closed five acquisitions in two and a half years – CSS, Centennial Torres, Skysites (a small website company), 51% of TIM’s fiber network, and GTS, also of towers. The investment in access networks totaled $1.3 billion.
In the purchase of TIM’s network, it received half of the infrastructure in fiber and half in fiber to a central office, being complemented by copper. Nassar said that everything will be converted to fiber to the home (FTTH). Currently, I-Systems has in Brazil 7,000 towers and 7 million homes with fiber passed in front, in 40 locations. Of the total, about 2.8 million have a copper network and 4 million have fiber.
*By Ivone Santana — São Paulo
Source: Valor International