Helios Towers cancels £2bn London IPO plan

16 March 2018 | Jason McGee-Abe


Helios Towers, an independent tower company in Africa, has abandoned its plans to launch an initial public offering (IPO) in London, which was expected to value the business at around £2 billion ($2.8bn).

Helios Towers, which has established one of Africa’s most extensive tower networks with more than 6,500 towers in four markets, cancelled the float on the London Stock Exchange but gave no reason other than “shareholders have decided not to proceed with an initial public offering of the Company’s shares at the current time”.

Helios Towers had announced its intention to float a fortnight ago on 2 March 2018 and had been “met with considerable institutional investor interest, endorsing its business model, strategy and growth prospects,” a company statement read yesterday.

The statement added: “The Company remains committed to executing its growth strategy and reiterates its confidence with respect to the outlook for the business.”

“Based only on today’s demand for African mobile services there is an infrastructure gap and the pressures are only going to increase, which is going to be fuelled by an exponentially growing data market and 245 million new subscribers by 2020. With this growing infrastructure gap and some of the world’s lowest revenues per subscriber, African mobile operators need efficiencies. With limited fixed-line infrastructure, mobile networks will need to keep pace and towers will be the backbone of this growth,” warned CEO Kash Pandya on the company’s London Stock Exchange profile page.

“We plan to continue to expand our footprint past the 10,000 tower mark,” says Kash, “but we haven’t rested on our laurels and the pressures of the economic climate have made us look internally for efficiencies in our cost base. Through this work we’re confident that we can continue to achieve high growth.”

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One thing that differentiates Helios Towers Africa from some of its competitors is that every site it operates also contains a mini power station. “This provides our customers with the uninterrupted power needed for mobile networks,” explained Kash, who is optimistic about the company’s prospects for the future. “It’s an exciting time to be in telecoms in Africa and a very exciting time to be in towers too.”

Helios Towers pioneered the sale-leaseback model in Africa, buying towers that were held by single operators and providing services utilising the tower infrastructure to the seller and other operators. It owns and operates more tower sites than any other operator in each of Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (or DRC), and Congo Brazzaville. It is also an operator in Ghana with a strong urban presence.

In August 2017, Helios Towers Tanzania (HTT) acquired all unique mainland tower sites from Zanzibar Telecom’s (Zantel), growing HTT’s portfolio to 3,700-owned towers.

Investors in HT include: Helios Investment Partners, Quantum Strategic Partners, Albright Capital Management LLC, RIT Capital Partners Plc, the International Finance Corporation and Millicom International Cellular.

To read some insights into Helios Towers, please go to: https://www.towerxchange.com/helios-ipo-announcement/