Helios Towers wants to build a thousand telecommunication towers in South Africa in the next three years as it tries to capitalise on rapid growth in mobile services and shape up for an initial public offering.
The company operates cellphone towers in countries including Ghana, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It entered South Africa last month by striking a local partnership and buying an independent tower operator, giving it a foothold in a country expected to lead sub-Saharan Africa in rolling out faster, 5G networks.
CEO Kash Pandya said Helios will look to acquire more towers from carriers such as MTN Group and Vodacom Group. The country has around 30 000 towers in all, with only about 10% of those run by independent companies.
“While the focus is on building in the country, after the acquisition of SA Towers recently provided us with 500 potential tower sites, we are looking at acquisition opportunities,” Pandya said.
UK-based Helios cancelled a planned share sale last year and plans to use a US$100-million loan facility to build the towers. While a call date on a separate $600-million bond is coming up soon, Pandya said there were no definite plans to tap the bond market again.
He said the company was “prepared” for a second IPO attempt but had no definite view on the timing for now.
Helios reported a 13% increase in fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation to $46.5-million. It had $89-million in cash at the end of last year, down from $120-million a year earlier. — (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP