Morgan Stanley India Infrastructure has made an investment of Rs 150 crore to acquire a stake in iBus which offers in-building wireless solutions, outdoor small cells and other last-mile connectivity solutions to mobile operators to enable them to serve their customers seamlessly.
The company currently deploys its infrastructure across 233 commercial, residential and retail sites across the country with a tenanted area of 276 million square feet. Cipher-Plexus Capital Advisor was exclusive advisor for the transaction.
"Connectivity is fundamental to large developing digital economies like India and our mission is to build an end-to-end intelligent, scalable and convergent connectivity ecosystem," said Ram Sellaratnam, Sunil Menon and Subash Vasudevan, Co-Founders of iBus.
"Distributed antenna systems such as in-building solutions have been fragmented and silo-ed for a long time. With this investment, iBus will build scale and eliminate inefficiencies to fast track the essential digitalisation of our economy."
The company's business model is intricately linked to India's data consumption and digital infrastructure story. The country's per capita data consumption is the highest globally with an average monthly data consumption of 11 GB per month compared to only 1 GB per month as recently as March 2017.
About 80 per cent of data consumption takes place indoors where telecom coverage is least adequate and the growth in mobile data consumption and the transition to 4G / 5G requires densification of indoor telecom networks.
With the government's focus on enhancing digital infrastructure across the country, businesses such as iBus will play a critical role in building such infrastructure and further improving network capacity and coverage.
The company also provides other solutions such as O-RAN deployment and data analytics which will play an increasingly important role as the country moves towards 5G.
"We are excited to partner with a management team that is establishing itself as the in-building solutions partner of choice for telecom operators," said Raja Parthasarathy, Managing Director and Co-Head of Morgan Stanley India Infrastructure.
"Our investment will allow iBus to drive consolidation and scale in a fragmented industry while enhancing the mobile user experience," he said.
Founded in 2013 by three first-generation entrepreneurs, iBus previously raised capital from a number of well-known investors and family offices.
Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners is a leading global infrastructure investment platform with offices in New York, London, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Amsterdam and Mumbai.
It has also invested in Unison Enviro, a city gas distribution company, HealthMap Diagnostics which specialises in diagnostic imaging in Indian healthcare, and LEAP India which specialises in providing supply chain solutions such as pooling of pallets.