Editor’s Note: March 05, 2018
African private equity finally gets a big listing
Helios Towers Africa (HTA), a mobile phone towers operator, plans to list on the London Stock Exchange in April with an expected valuation of at least $2bn. A secondary listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange is also planned. The company operates in Ghana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo-Brazzaville and Tanzania.
HTA was established in 2009, backed by investors including Helios Investment Partners, a London-based sub-Saharan Africa focused private equity firm. It led the investment with an initial 28.6% stake having launched Africa’s first independent mobile towers business in Nigeria in 2006.
A paucity of IPOs has long been a criticism of African private equity, where trade sales dominate. The high profile listing is good news for the industry, which has seen major market entrants like KKR shut up shop and deal values shrink during the slowdown of the last two years.
Other big Africa-focused telecoms IPOs are in the pipeline, but the choice of London and Johannesburg is also a reminder of how illiquid most of Africa’s bourses are – a major constraint on IPOs. The Nigerian Stock Exchange for example has a market cap of less than $50bn.
While encouraging listings like this are likely to remain the exception.
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