Mobile tower giant eyes JSE listing

Helios Towers, one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest mobile-phone tower operators, is reviving plans for an initial public offering, people familiar with the matter said.

The company’s advisers are resuming preparations for an IPO that could value Helios at about $3 billion, according to the people. It is considering filing for the share sale as soon as this year, the people said.

The tower owner is weighing London and Johannesburg as listing venues, though it hasn’t made a final decision, one of the people said.

In March last year, Helios announced its intention for an initial public offering in London and Johannesburg to let shareholders such as Soros Fund Management LLC reduce their stakes.

It quickly abandoned the plans with little explanation, saying two weeks later its owners had decided against a listing despite receiving “considerable interest” from potential investors.

Any deal would add to the $1.8 billion of IPOs by telecommunications-related companies this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Helios was one of a number of tower owners, including fellow African operator IHS Towers Ltd, that abandoned listing plans last year.

Helios’s shareholders include investment firms backed by British banker Jacob Rothschild and former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as well as the World Bank’s International Finance Corp. and Millicom International Cellular SA.

No final decisions have been made, and Helios could still decide against selling shares for now, the people said. A representative for Helios declined to comment.

Helios has more than 6,700 towers spread across five African countries, serving customers including Airtel Africa Plc, MTN Group Ltd and Vodacom Group Ltd. It’s the only independent tower operator in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Republic of Congo, according to its website.

Helios also has operations in Ghana and launched in South Africa this year.

Read: Helios Towers signs agreement with SA Towers

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Mobile tower giant eyes JSE listing