Telecommunications bond issue success highlights EAIF’s role in attracting global investors to African infrastructure
As Covid-19 slowed the global economy in July 2020, Helios Towers Africa, a subsidiary of Helios Towers plc (HT) launched a bond offer on the London market. EAIF was an anchor investor in the bond and had committed up to US$60 million to the issue.
Helios Towers operates over 7,000 telecommunications towers, mainly in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Ghana. It has established a presence in South Africa and more recently announced its entry into the Senegal market. The bond issue was the sixth time EAIF had supported the company’s development.
Because of the global financial uncertainty caused by Covid-19 the African corporate debt capital markets were effectively closed. As a consequence, HT was initially cautious in its ambitions for the bond issue, with US$425 million seen as an achievable target. In the event, the issue exceeded expectations. HT raised US$750 million, allowing a full redemption of its 2022 notes. The high level of private sector investment in the issue enabled EAIF to scale back its investment from US$60 million to US$30 million.
Tom Greenwood, Chief Financial Officer at Helios Towers said;
“EAIF’s presence as anchor investor was an important signal to private investors and instrumental to the positive market sentiment that greeted the issue.”
Clean energy to power towers
The proceeds of the bond are being primarily used to refinance existing debt and in part for meeting the ongoing capital expenditure needs of the business, which includes investments in new towers, upgrades of existing towers and the roll out of more efficient power solutions, including solar generation. Helios Towers leases capacity to leading mobile network operators in its territories. The model stimulates digital commerce, makes advanced telecommunications products available to millions of people, encourages price competition and allows airtime suppliers to avoid using capital on infrastructure.