Soros-backed Mobile Phone Tower Operator Helios Towers To IPO At USD 3 Bn Valuation

By  |  August 8, 2019

One of the best-known mobile phone tower operators in Sub-Saharan Africa, Helios Towers, has resumed plans for an initial public offering. According to people familiar with the matter, the company’s advisers are preparing to take it public, possibly valuing Helios at USD 3 Bn. 

While it has not been confirmed whether the Soros-backed company will actually list this year, but the firm’s head is aiming to do a listing either in London or Johannesburg pending the arrival of a final financial decision. Nevertheless, there is a possibility that the firm will again decide against selling its shares. 

As is apparent, this is not the first time Helios is talking about an IPO. The first time was March last year when it announced with the same intention details in a bid to let shareholders such as Soros Fund Management LCC reduce their stakes.

These initial plans were left without much reasons disclosed. Two weeks later after the halt of preparation, the company said its owners kicked against a listing in spite of receiving “considerable interest” from potential investors. 

According to data from Bloomberg, any deal would add USD 1.8 Bn in value to the IPOs of telco-related firms this year. Business intelligence platform Crunchbase says that a cumulation of USD 993 Mn has been invested in Helios Towers from a variety of investors apart from Soros. Whether it lists in London or Johannesburg (or both), the value added will help the firm further expansions to other parts of Africa. 

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January this year, Helis unveiled a South African investment, the line along which it signed an agreement with the country’s tower company S.A Towers to acquire a controlling stake in the business.

With the number of mobile subscribers in Africa multiplied significantly to more than 500 million – it was 16 million in 2000 – an IPO boost for Helios could very well be what ignites on-demand telecom services in the continent.

Numbers obtained from Helios’ website show that it has more than 6,700 towers spread in five African countries. Serving MTN, Airtel Africa and Vodacom Group, the company is the only independent tower operator in the DRC, Tanzania, and Republic of Congo. 

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