London-based Digital Infrastructure Accelerator (DIA), along with a Middle East-based fund, is buying a 100% stake in Airtel-Vodafone’s WiFi joint venture (JV), FireFly Networks. After the acquisition, the new owners will invest up to $100 million in the next two years to help the Wi-Fi infrastructure company expand in the country.
With the deal, Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea will fully exit the venture that was started in 2014 but will remain Firefly’s customers. Both telcos have contracts with FireFly, which deploys WiFi infrastructure for data offloading in areas where demand is high but cell tower capacity is low, along with indoor public spaces.
The JV was previously in acquisition talks with US-based networking major Cisco, but their talks couldn’t materialise. It then started acquisition talks with Digital Infrastructure Accelerator.
Initially, DIA partnered with Macquarie Capital to complete the acquisition but finally chose to loop in a Middle Eastern fund and are now acquiring the stake in JV.