IHS Towers prepares for Africa’s biggest IPO
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NIGERIA-based tower operator IHS Towers, which is partially owned by MTN, is planning Africa’s biggest initial public offering (IPO) on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) after calling it off in 2018.
MTN said on Friday IHS Towers had filed papers on Thursday with the US Securities and Exchange Commission relating to a potential IPO on the NYSE.
“The timing, number of shares to be offered and price range of the proposed offering have not yet been determined. The launch of the offering is subject to the necessary regulatory approvals, governance approvals and conducive market conditions,” said MTN. MTN, Africa’s mobile giant, holds a 29 percent interest in IHS Towers, which has 30 207 towers in its existing portfolio. MTN’s 29 percent stake in IHS Towers was valued at R30.5 billion at the end of June 2021.
IHS Towers was founded by Sam Darwish in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2011 and is focused on building and managing mobile telecommunications infrastructure for mobile network operators.
IHS Towers boasts a 365 million mobile subscriber base at its nine markets, including Brazil and Nigeria. It is one of the world’s largest independent owners of mobile infrastructure and is reportedly the largest operator of wireless towers in Africa, Europe and the Middle East by tower count.
MTN said in August that IHS Towers was key to its asset realisation process (ARP) and at present, “demand for infrastructure assets remains strong and conditions in the US equity market are favourable for a listing”.
MTN launched its ARP in March 2019 with the aim of cutting debt, simplifying its portfolio, reducing risk and improving returns. The group said its target was to realise proceeds of at least R25bn over three to five years.
The group is also working on a transaction in South Africa that will involve the sale and leasing back of 5 700 towers. MTN SA was evaluating a shortlist of interested bids and aims to reach a decision on the transaction by the end of the third quarter. MTN was also looking to list its fintech business.
IHS Towers said in August last year it would pursue the IPO after calling it off in 2018. IHS Towers profit for the three-month period ended June 30, 2021, was $105.7 million (R1.55bn) compared with a loss of $35.8m for the three-month period ended June 30, 2020, an increase in profit of $141.5m for the period.
Profit for the six-month period ended June 30, 2021, was $76.6m compared with a loss of $352.9m for the six-month period ended June 30, 2020. MTN’s share price gained 3.34 percent to close at R128.55 on the JSE on Friday.