Equinix today announced an agreement to acquire Main One Cable Company Ltd (MainOne), a data center, fiber, and subsea cable operator in West Africa, in an all-cash transaction at an enterprise value of $320m. With the acquisition of MainOne, Equinix is gaining an immediate data center presence in Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire, while also purchasing a sizeable subsea cable network – a significant component of MainOne’s value.
Equinix is acquiring MainOne from a consortium, which includes African private equity investors. Specifically, these sellers are Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), Pan African Infrastructure Development Fund (PAIDF), FBNQuest Capital Partners, Polaris Bank Limited, and Main Street Technologies Limited.
Overall, MainOne’s facilities generate ~$60m of revenue (Q2 2021 annualized) and ~$23m of EBITDA. Therefore, MainOne is being valued by Equinix at ~14x EBITDA. Additionally, upon close, Equinix expects the acquisition of MainOne to be accretive to its adjusted funds from operations (AFFO), excluding integration costs.
Despite Equinix operating 237 data centers in 27 countries globally, the acquisition of MainOne marks the company’s entry into Africa. Indeed, Equinix has been gaining indirect exposure to the continent, via the 2Africa subsea cable, while its major competitor Digital Realty has recently been making inroads as well, particularly in Nigeria.
Finally, the transaction is expected to close in Q1 2022.
MainOne – Equinix Enters Africa via Data Centers, Fiber, Subsea Cables
MainOne was founded in 2010 and its data center presence currently spans the countries of Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire. Importantly, Nigeria boasts Africa’s largest economy and Ghana is an emerging data center hub. Within these countries, MainOne owns a combination of data centers, terrestrial fiber, and subsea cables.
MainOne operates carrier-neutral data centers under its subsidiary MDXi. Presently, MainOne owns 3 operational data centers in Lagos, Nigeria; Accra, Ghana; and Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Also, the company has 1 additional facility under construction in Lagos, Nigeria, known as Lekki II, which is expected to open in Q1 2022.
Ultimately, MainOne has the goal of increasing its Lekki data center in Lagos, Nigeria by an incremental 600 racks, to 1.2k+ total racks by 2023.
|Lekki Data Center||Lagos||Nigeria||600||37.7k|
|Appolonia Data Center||Accra||Ghana||104||—|
|Côte d’Ivoire Data Center||Abidjan||Côte d’Ivoire||100||—|
|Subtotal – Operational||—||—||804||37.7k+|
|Lekki II (Through 2023)||Lagos||Nigeria||600||—|
|Total – incl. Developments||—||—||1,404||64.0k|
Upon completion, these 4 data centers will comprise 1.4k+ racks and 5+ megawatts of power capacity across 64.0k+ sqft of gross floor space. Additionally, MainOne has a further 570k sqft of land which is developable for future expansions. For example, these development projects include the construction of the Sagamu Data Center Campus in Ogun State, Nigeria (see below).
Below are further details on MainOne’s data centers – both operational and developments:
Lekki Data Center – Lagos, Nigeria
MainOne’s Lekki Data Center offers 600 racks and up to 7.5 MVA of power on-site across 37.7k sqft (3.5k sqm) of floor space and 16.1k sqft (1.5k sqm) of dedicated white space.
This data center acts as a hub for local content delivery and key regional and intercontinental connectivity. Also, the facility serves as the primary point for traffic aggregation in West Africa.
Notably, as of 2018, MainOne quoted a build cost of $43m for the facility ($35m initial phase, $8m to construct additional racks).
Appolonia Data Center – Appolonia City, Accra, Ghana
MainOne’s Appolonia Data Center in Ghana offers 104 racks and is situated on 43.6k sqft (4.0k sqm) of land area.
Côte d’Ivoire Data Center – Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
MainOne’s Côte d’Ivoire Data Center offers 100 racks and acts as a combination between a cable landing station and data center site. This ensures accessibility of the data center’s content to local and international nodes.
This prefabricated cable landing station serves MainOne’s subsea cable (see below), which lands in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Sagamu Data Center – Ogun State, Nigeria
MainOne is developing a Tier III data center at Flowergate Industrial Park in the commercial region of Sagamu in Ogun State, Nigeria.
MainOne owns 745+ miles (1.2k+ kilometers) of terrestrial fiber network across southern Nigeria. Specifically, the fiber extends to the city of Lagos and the states of Edo and Ogun, Nigeria. Additionally, the company’s IP network offers direct-line connectivity to customers in 8 countries across West Africa.
Overall, via its terrestrial fiber, MainOne enhances connectivity to and from West African countries and the major business communities in Nigeria.
MainOne’s terrestrial fiber connects to key internet exchanges including Internet Exchange Point of Nigeria (IXPN), Ghana Internet Exchange (GIX), London Internet Exchange (LINX), Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), and West Africa Internet Exchange (WAF-IX). Also, the company’s connectivity services extend to 65 points-of-presence (PoPs), including partners PoPs, to cities in Nigeria, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Portugal, and the United Kingdom.
MainOne owns and operates a subsea cable network, also named MainOne, which extends 4.3k miles (7.0k kilometers) down the coast of West Africa. Geographically, this subsea cable connects Nigeria to Portugal, landing in the cities of Lagos, Nigeria; Kribi, Cameroon; Accra, Ghana; Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire; Dakar, Senegal; and Seixal (Lisbon), Portugal.
Beyond MainOne’s existing network, the subsea cable has planned branching units to Tenerife, Canary Islands (Spain) and Casablanca, Morocco.
The MainOne subsea cable became ready for service (RFS) in 2010, following an initial investment of $240m. Presently, the subsea cable delivers capacity of 1.92 terabits per second (Tbps). Further, the subsea cable has been proven to provide capacity of at least 4.96 Tbps. Through this capacity, the MainOne subsea cable is improving connectivity to and from Europe and Africa.
Customers, Services and Management – MainOne
MainOne serves 800+ business-to-business (B2B) customers within the sectors of technology, social media, telecommunications operators, financial services, and cloud service providers. For example, MainOne notes that it partners with companies such as Facebook, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Cisco, Huawei, and Netflix.
Below are the four main groupings of MainOne’s service offerings:
- Connectivity: internet access / transit, dark fiber, metro ethernet, cloud connect, IP, multiprotocol label switching (MPLS), virtual private network (VPN), international private leased circuit (IPLC)
- Cloud: private cloud, infrastructure as a service (IaaS), disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS)
- Data Center: colocation, interconnection, internet exchange
- Managed Services: customer premises equipment (CPE), Wi-Fi, security, satellite communications
Prior to today’s announcement, MainOne had a pre-existing relationship with Equinix through its Cloud Connect service. Specifically, this Cloud Connect offering facilitates direct, secure, and reliable network connectivity between enterprise data centers or office locations and public cloud service providers.
To this end, Africa’s MainOne had an existing partnership in-place with Equinix that grants it direct access to cloud service providers including Oracle and IBM.
MainOne’s management team, which is led by Funke Opeke, as Founder and CEO, will continue to serve in similar roles for Equinix post-transaction.