Helios Tower makes a u-turn after ditching London Bourse

African mobile towers operator, Helios Tower is set to debut its initial public offering at the London Stock exchange at 115-145 pence per share bringing its total valuation to about $1.79 billion, Reuters reported.

This news comes over a year after the tower operator ditched its plan to list on the London Bourse which was expected to value the firm at as much as 2 billion pounds ($2.8 billion). It was reported that the valuation from market feedback was not enough for the shareholders. They also had a lot of interest from investors but they wanted a discount for the political risk in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Tanzania.

As of then, there was a deepening crisis over the tenure of President Joseph Kabila’s. President Kabila was meant to leave office in 2016 but he has refused to step down thereby raising fears of the people of in DRC. In Tanzania which is politically stable, the style of President John Magafuli nicknamed the “Bulldozer” attacks on the mining sector as part of an anti-corruption drive has put off foreign investors. However, Kabila has this year, handed over to Felix Tshisekedi after a general election which took place in December 2018.

Helios Towers which currently owns about 6,600 telecoms towers in Ghana, Tanzania, Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo, entered the South African market through a partnership with Vulatel in January, saying it “expects to make major greenfield wireless and fixed-line telecoms infrastructure investments in South Africa.”

The company said the agreement with Vulatel will create a South African infrastructure platform to be known as Helios Towers South Africa, which will build out wireless and fixed-line open-access infrastructure in the country. Vulatel is a 69 percent black-owned and 45 percent black women-owned business.

As part of the IPO, Helios, which seems to be motivated by the listing of several other companies with a strong presence in Africa, plans to establish a holding company in London, run by the former president of the AngloGold Ashanti mining group, Sam Jonah.

According to Reuters, Books for the deal closes on October 14, with the first day of trading expected the following day. Bank of America, Jefferies and Standard Bank are joint global coordinators on the Helios deal while Renaissance Capital and EFG Hermes are joint bookrunners for the deal. 86.5 percent and 86.7 percent of Helios’ group’s revenue for the month ended June 30, 2019, and the year ended December 31, 2019, respectively, were from subsidiaries of five of the largest  Mobile Network Operators holding companies in sub-Saharan Africa which are Airtel, MTN, Orange, Tigo and Vodacom.