In what marks the first consolidation of mobile infrastructure companies in Africa, IHS Towers is acquiring a little over 1200 Towers located in Nigeria from Helios Towers Nigeria. Financial terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Both companies count some of the continent’s leading private equity firms and international development finance institutions among their backers. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016.
Once the required regulatory approvals have been received, IHS will acquire 100% of HTN’s outstanding share capital from Helios Towers plc, which is owned by Helios Investment Partners, Pembani Group, First City Monument Bank and a number of minority shareholders.
Commenting on the transaction, HTN’s CEO, Inder Bajaj said “IHS is the natural buyer of our business and we believe their deep knowledge and extensive experience in the sector will help to continue the strong level of customer service already being achieved by HTN.”
Both companies were instrumental in establishing the mobile telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria in the early 2000’s since when mobile phone use has boomed given the limited fixed-line infrastructure available in the country and the increasing demand for voice and data services from the population of 180 million people. The deal solidifies IHS’s position as the country’s leading tower company in a market in which the pace of network investment and growth shows no sign of ebbing.
IHS, which includes Wendel, GIC, Emerging Capital Partners, the IFC and KIC among is shareholders, will take full operational control of the business once the transaction has closed, integrating HTN’s towers into IHS’s existing network and marketing independent infrastructure sharing services to mobile network operators and internet service providers in Nigeria.
“We remain committed to the Nigerian tower market where coverage levels are yet to mature and explosive data growth continues,” Issam Darwish, IHS’s founder and Group CEO was quoted as saying in the statement announcing the sale agreement. “The growing data traffic and increased smartphone use presents an exciting market opportunity for IHS, with the potential for up to 40,000 more towers required to meet this demand.”
According to reports, IHS and HTN were advised by UBS and Citigroup respectively.