MTN Seeks to Cash In on IPO of Africa’s Biggest Tower Company

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By Loni Prinsloo

  • Wireless carrier values stake at about $2.3 billion, CFO says
  • IPO proceeds could be used to cut MTN’s debt pile further

MTN Group Ltd. could cash in from an initial public offering of Africa’s largest telecommunication towers company by selling a stake valued by the wireless carrier at about 27 billion rand ($2.3 billion).

IHS Towers, of which Johannesburg-based MTN owns about 29 percent, is planning an IPO in New York, people familiar with the matter said last year. If the tower operator goes ahead with the share sale and the valuation is appropriate, MTN will look to sell out, Chief Financial Officer Ralph Mupita said in an interview.

“It is not strategic to lock up so much capital,” the CFO said. While MTN’s stake in IHS Towers is important, its been earmarked by the company as an asset for sale, he said.

IHS, Helios Towers Africa LLP and Eaton Towers Ltd. are all looking to take advantage of high industry valuations to sell shares and fund expansion, the people familiar with the situation said in November. Helios confirmed the plans earlier this month, saying it would seek an IPO in London and Johannesburg and expects at least 25 percent of its shares will be freely traded after the sale. IHS Towers declined to comment.

MTN, Africa’s largest mobile-phone company by sales, is planning to cut its debt, Mupita said. Borrowings rose to 57 billion rand ($4.8 billion) in 2017 from 52 billion rand the previous year. The shares rose 1.2 percent to 133.60 rand as of 3:30 p.m. in Johannesburg, valuing the company at 252 billion rand.

IHS is owned by French investment firm Wendel SA and Goldman Sachs & Co. as well as MTN.

— With assistance by Yinka Ibukun

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Godwin Okafor is a financial journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and the Founder Naija247news Media Ltd He has over 16 experiences in journalism, which cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career in Business Day, Where he was a senior editorial graphic artist, before he left to start Naija247news, An Online Financial Newspaper in 2010. He has won series of awards and he is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.com and also sits on the board of Students In Business Awards, (SIBA). He currently lives in Manhattan New York

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