Trader Gerard Farco watches a television on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange showing the rate decision of the Federal Reserve, Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017. With a new Federal Reserve leader about to be announced, the Fed is keeping its key interest rate unchanged. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
INTERNATIONAL - Three of Africa’s largest telecommunication towers companies plan to pursue share sales in either London or New York early next year, taking advantage of high industry valuations to fund expansion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Closely-held IHS Towers, targeting an enterprise value of $10billion (R137bn), plans to list in New York, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information was not public.

Helios Towers Africa is looking at a valuation of at least $2 billion, while Eaton Towers is aiming for about $2 billion, the people said. Both will list in London, while Eaton is also considering a secondary listing in Johannesburg, they said.

Africa’s phone mast industry is booming as rising wireless device use leads to a leapfrogging of traditional land-line connections. Mobile subscriptions in sub-Saharan Africa are set to surge 41percent to 990million in five years, according to Ericsson AB. Tower operators, which also sell power to remote sites in Africa, are looking to build new masts and buy existing ones from carriers such as MTN and Vodacom Group.

The planned stock sales are being timed to line-up with robust interest among investors for the stable returns and growth offered by tower companies, which host equipment for carriers on their masts.

Tower operator shares are near-record highs globally, with many making acquisitions as phone companies offload infrastructure. Spain’s Cellnex Telecom SA has gained 52percent this year and American Tower Corp is up 39percent.