Helios Towers IPO hits $1.45bn on London Stock Exchange

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Africa-focused telecom tower infrastructure company Helios Towers has closed its initial public offering (IPO) on $1.45 billion.

The George Soros-backed company raised $364 million on its first day and the IPO, which was issued on the premium listing segment of the London Stock Exchange, closed on Friday, representing one of the largest Africa-focused IPOs of 2019.

The company operates 6,800 towers in the DRC, Republic of Congo, Ghana, Tanzania and South Africa, the latter of which it launched operations in this year. Helios, which serves carriers such as Airtel Africa, MTN Group and Vodacom, had shelved IPO plans last year amid political risk concerns in DRC and Tanzania but announced its intention to go public in September 2019.

IHS Towers and Eaton Towers also backtracked on plans to IPO last year with Nigeria elections and lowered valuations the respective reasons cited for not doing so. Since then, IHS Towers raised $1.3 billion via the debt market and Eaton Towers sold its business to American Tower Corporation for $1.85 billion.

Kash Pandya, CEO of Helios, said the float “signifies our commitment to spreading mobile infrastructure across Sub-Saharan Africa.” The CEO suggested in a Bloomberg report that the company may use some of the funds for its expansion plans, which includes adding three new African countries to the five where it currently operates.

The amount raised in the Helios IPO certainly signals strong appetite from the global investor community on the infrastructure of Africa’s mobile revolution.

Shareholders including Bharti Airtel and Millicom International Cellular sold down their stakes in the IPO. Helios Towers set its IPO size at £250 million and gave the company a market capitalisation of £1.15 billion.

The London office of law firm Akin Gump advised Helios Investment Partners on the IPO.