After cancelling its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in 2018, Nigeria-based tower operator IHS Towers, which MTN partially owns, is proposing Africa’s largest IPO on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). MTN reported that IHS Towers has recently filed paperwork with the US Securities and Exchange Commission relating to a potential NYSE IPO.
According to Africa’s largest mobile operator MTN, “the proposed offering’s timing, the number of shares to be issued, and price range have yet to be determined. In addition, the offering’s launch is contingent on regulatory clearances, governance approvals, and favourable market conditions.” MTN holds a 29 per cent stake in IHS Towers, which has a portfolio of 30 207 towers. At the end of June 2021, MTN’s 29 per cent share in IHS Towers was valued at US$ 2.06 billion.
Sam Darwish founded IHS Towers in Lagos, Nigeria, in 2011 to develop and operate mobile network infrastructure for mobile network operators. IHS Towers’ nine markets, including Brazil and Nigeria, have 365 million mobile subscribers. It is one of the world’s largest independent mobile infrastructure owners in terms of tower count and the leading wireless tower operator in Africa, Europe, and the Middle East.
MTN said IHS Towers was critical to its asset realisation process (ARP) and that “demand for infrastructure assets remains strong, with conditions in the US equity market favourable for a listing” at the moment. MTN launched the ARP in March 2019 to reduce debt, simplify its portfolio, lower risk, and increase returns. The company is also working on a deal in South Africa that will see 5 700 towers sold and leased back. MTN SA is evaluating a shortlist of prospective bidders and hopes to make a decision by the end of the third quarter. MTN was also considering going public with its fintech business.
After cancelling the IPO in 2018, IHS Towers said in August of last year that it would resume the process. IHS Towers made a profit of US$105.7 million for the three months ended June 30, 2021, compared to a loss of US$35.8 million for the three months ended June 30, 2020, a profit rise of US$141.5 million for the period.