Helios expanding mobile-phone tower business in SA


Helios Towers plans to acquire additional mobile-phone tower sites in South Africa from Eagle Towers as it expands its presence in the country. 

The London-based company first entered South Africa in 2019 through a partnership with Vulatel that brought the group 500 sites. It will add another 65 with this deal, which it expects to be concluded by the second half of the year, Chief Executive Kash Pandya said by phone.

Helios also received an order from the country’s largest mobile-phone operator, Vodacom Group, to build towers over the next 15 months. Vodacom recently announced that it would start rolling out 5G services in South Africa’s three largest cities.

Tower companies have been expanding in Africa to take advantage of faster internet connections and takeup of smartphones across the continent. Meanwhile, wireless carriers around the world have been disposing of tower assets to free up capital for other ventures, creating a sweet spot for deal-making.

Helios is working on a number of deals that will come through during the next month or two, said Pandya, and expects acquisitions to be concluded by end of the year depending on the impact of the global coronavirus impact.

“We have seen a degree of slowdown in terms being able to travel and engaging with the parties when it comes to deal negotiations,” said Pandya. “It’s a little bit slower at the moment as the government and regulators hunker down.”

Helios is in talks with lenders and development-finance institutions about raising debt for large deals if needed later in the year, Chief Financial Officer Tom Greenwood said on the same call. The company has about $146 million in cash, and $100 million in debt facilities, following a London share sale last year.

The shares have gained 7% since the listing late last year, valuing the company at about 1.2 billion pounds (R27 billion).

Helios is also looking to enter other African countries, including Senegal, Morocco, and Egypt, Greenwood said. It currently holds a portfolio of about 7 000 towers.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Company Snapshot