Helios Towers scraps £2bn IPO

The Africa-based telecoms company said it drew ‘considerable institutional investor interest’, despite the cancellation.

Helios Towers Africa has pulled a listing of the company on the London and Johannesburg stock exchanges, two weeks after confirming its intention to float.

The company is understood to have been looking for a valuation of about £2 billion ($2.8 billion; €2.2 billion), including debt, but the IPO has now been cancelled and Helios gave no further indication of its plans and did not respond to requests for comment.

“The independent telecoms tower infrastructure company has met with considerable institutional investor interest, endorsing its business model, strategy and growth prospects,” it stated. “However, shareholders have decided not to proceed with an initial public offering of the company’s shares at the current time. The company remains committed to executing its growth strategy and reiterates its confidence with respect to the outlook for the business.”

Helios Towers owns more than 6,500 towers in four African countries and is the market leader in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo, while it also is a significant operator in the Ghanaian market.

However, it is believed the risk profile of Tanzania and the DRC – the latter of which has seen recent deadly clashes – have put off investors, combined with the valuation of the IPO, Laura Graves, managing director of industry group TowerXchange, told Infrastructure Investor. She added that the expected IPO of Eaton Towers – another Africa-focused towers group, albeit with a slightly more diversified portfolio – also distracted investors.

Going forward, both Helios and Eaton could be subject to a buyout from US-based telecom towers owner American Towers, which is said to be analysing the prospects of both companies, according to Graves.

The IPO was designed to support the company’s growth plans and provide it with access to a wider range of capital-raising options for the future. It would also have enabled existing shareholders – including Soros Fund Management, Helios Investment Partners, Albright Capital Management, the IFC and Bharti Airtel – to partially realise their investment.

Helios Towers was formed in 2009 and grew its EBITDA last year by 38.8 percent to $146 million, with revenues of $345 million.