October 2, 2019 / 7:32 AM / 17 days ago

African mast operator Helios Towers launches up to $1.8 billion London IPO - source

LONDON (Reuters) - African mobile networks operator Helios Towers Ltd priced its initial public offering at 115-145 pence per share on Wednesday, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters, implying a total valuation of $1.42 billion to $1.79 billion.

The company, which operates phone masts in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Ghana, South Africa and Tanzania, last year shelved plans for its IPO amid concerns about political risks in DRC and Tanzania.

Helios is planning a free float of at least 25% of the company, with a listing on the London Stock Exchange, and will use the proceeds for expanding its services, including possibly into new countries, it has said.

“It’s a really good business in a strong sector, telecoms in Africa is the sort of growth story that appeals in this low-growth environment (globally),” said a source familiar with the transaction.

The decision to press ahead with the deal comes despite turbulent market conditions in Britain amid the long-running chaos surrounding the negotiations to exit the European Union, and the poor recent performance of other African IPOs in London.

Airtel Africa (AAF.L) saw its shares drop 15% to 67 pence per share on its market debut after completing a 595 million pound ($730 million) IPO in late June. Since then shares have fallen further, and were as low as 50 pence on Tuesday.

Vivo Energy (VVO.L) shares are down 1% since its May 2018 debut.

Bank of America (BAC.N), Jefferies and Standard Bank are joint global coordinators on the Helios deal while Renaissance Capital and EFG Hermes are joint bookrunners.

Books for the deal close on Oct. 14, with the first day of trading expected the following day.

Reporting by Lawrence White, additional reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan, editing by Louise Heavens

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