Towers consolidation in Africa as IHS buys rival

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

IHS Holding on Thursday announced that it has agreed to acquire Helios Towers Nigeria (HTN), in the process adding 1,211 tower sites in Nigeria to its portfolio.

IHS, which owns 23,300 mobile towers across Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia and Rwanda, said it expects to derive "meaningful synergies" from the transaction, given that a considerable part of its footprint is located in Nigeria.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to close in the second quarter of this year, IHS said.

"This transaction is significant in that it combines Africa's two original tower companies and will enable us to strengthen our service offering to our customers while focusing on their needs," said Issam Darwish, group CEO of IHS.

IHS notes that the mobile industry in Nigeria is poised for a sustained period of network investment and growth. Coverage levels cannot yet be described as mature and rapid data growth is ongoing, it said.

Nigeria had 151.36 million telephone connections at the end of January, according to the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), of which fewer than 200,000 were fixed connections.

Teledensity stood at just over 108%, the regulator said.

"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," Darwish said.

Meanwhile, HTN chief executive Inder Bajaj described IHS as "the natural buyer" for its business.

"We have built a unique urban-centric portfolio across Nigeria with the highest tenancy ratio in the industry and a diversified tenant mix," Bajaj said.

"IHS's deep knowledge and extensive experience in the sector will help to continue the strong level of customer service already being achieved by HTN," he said.
Source: Totale Telecom  10 March 2016