Helios Towers raises $95m for Tanzania

Standard Bank, FMO and the Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund are part of a group of lenders backing the telecoms mast business.

A group of banks and investors has provided the Tanzanian subsidiary of Helios Towers with a syndicated term loan totalling $95 million.

Domestic and international backers took part in the transaction, which saw South Africa's Standard Bank act as co-ordinator and Stanbic Bank, the Netherlands’ development finance institution FMO, Investec, National Micro Finance Bank and The Emerging Africa Infrastructure Fund play the role of mandated lead arrangers.

The liquidity will go towards financing the expansion of Helios Towers’ network in Tanzania, a market in which it claims to be the largest operator and which it says is growing at an annual rate of 14 percent.

Tanzania had 36 million subscribers at the end of last year, Standard Bank said in a statement. Prospects for its telecoms market recently received a boost after Halotel, a unit of Vietnam’s Viettel, launched last October.

The country’s other three mobile phone operators include the Tanzanian subsidiaries of South Africa’s Vodacom, India’s Bharti Airtel Tanzania, Sweden's Millicom and Abu Dhabi’s Etisalat.

Backed by Helios Investment Partners, Quantum Strategic Partners, Albright Capital Management, RIT Capital Partners, the International Finance Corporation and Millicom, Helios Towers Africa bills itself as the largest independent tower company in Africa.

It was a pioneer in importing the sale-leaseback model into Africa, where a company buys towers that were owned by single operators and leases them back to the seller and others.

Launched in December 2010, when it purchased and leased back 1,020 towers to Tigo Tanzania, it now owns more than 5,500 towers across four markets.