Helios secures $105m to fund Bharti Airtel towers deal

14 July 2016 | Jason McGee-Abe


The Helios Towers Democratic Republic of Congo (HTD) subsidiary has announced the successful completion of a $105 million loan to help fund a Bharti Airtel’s tower portfolio acquisition and to finance future growth in the country.

HTD’s present portfolio in the country includes around 1,800 towers with a growing pipeline of new builds for multiple operators. As a result of the transaction 950 Bharti Airtel mobile phone towers will be added to its portfolio.. 

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The tower specialist added that the facility will also enable it to invest in power technologies as HTD invests to reduce its reliance on diesel fuel.

Since 2010, HTD has pioneered the independent TowerCo model in DRC through commercialising the ex-Tigo towers and building out further towers to which it will add c.950 towers as a result of the Bharti Airtel tower transaction. This acquisition will ensure HTD’s leading position in the DRC, one of the fastest growing telecommunications markets in Africa. The continued support of HTD’s lending syndicate formed from both international financial institutions and international development agencies highlights the strong willingness to invest in African telecoms infrastructure and is testament to the achievements of the business over the last five years.

HTD will continue to focus on driving infrastructure sharing, delivering customer service excellence and expanding their network to keep pace with market demands as they look to enable the delivery of next generation telecommunication services. Through this focus, HTD will continue to allow their customers to preserve capital and reduce their operating costs whilst benefiting the country as a whole by preventing the proliferation of duplicate towers through infrastructure sharing.

Commenting on the deal, Kash Pandya, chief executive officer of Helios Tower Africa (HTA), said the financing package will not only help fund the acquisition of Bharti Airtel’s tower portfolio but also expand tower sharing solutions across the country. He added: “This is a significant step for HTA as it allows us to expand our DRC footprint and strengthen our network coverage for all of our customers.”

“The DRC is a fast-growing market for HTA and with 17 million new subscribes forecast by 2020 we look forward to helping our customers address the infrastructure gap needed to support this phenomenal growth. We are committed to growing our successful independent tower business across the whole of Africa and would like to thank our lenders for their continued support in achieving this ambition.”

HTA has established one of Africa’s most extensive tower networks with c.6,500 towers in four markets. It builds and manages telecoms infrastructure, leasing it to operators across the continent.

The $105 million syndicated term loan was led by The Standard Bank of South Africa, as initial mandated lead arranger, and German development finance institution DEG as DFI arranger.