Helios Towers plans to use an expansion into Oman to further its presence in the Middle East and North Africa, part of an ambitious growth plan kicked off by an initial public offering in London in 2019.
The telecommunications mast operator has extended its reach to 11 countries from five since its IPO, and on Tuesday announced a US$575-million (R8-billion) deal to buy almost 3 000 towers from Omantel. That followed an agreement with Airtel Africa in March to acquire masts in Madagascar and Malawi.
The Oman deal “will ultimately lead us to opportunities in other countries in the Middle East as well as North Africa, which are fast-growing economies,” Helios CEO Kash Pandya said in an interview. “We expect more Middle Eastern operators will start releasing towers from their balance sheet.”
The latest acquisition took Helios a step closer to a target of having more than 12 000 towers in its portfolio, taking advantage of increasing demand from telecoms operators to sell off masts to free up funding. While the company has about $1-billion for deals, it can raise more if other big opportunities arise, chief operating officer Tom Greenwood in the same interview.
Helios shares fell 1.8% as of 9.56am in London on Tuesday, having gained about 45% since the listing.
Helios is considering a big opportunity in South Africa, where MTN is looking to complete a sale and lease back of its domestic towers.
“There are activities going on in South Africa for instance, and you will expect us to be interested in the activities,” said Pandya, without referring specifically to MTN.
MTN said last week its received interest from about 20 bidders, and plans to conclude the deal by the third quarter of the year. — (c) 2021 Bloomberg LP