USD 750 million bond issue anchored by EAIF attracts strong private sector investment
Helios Towers operates over 7,000 telecommunications towers, mainly in Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville and Ghana and has recently established a presence in South Africa. In June 2020, the company launched a bond issue, with the ambition to raise US$450 million. It was a cautious target in relation to its preferred ambition of USD 700m, because Covid-19 had brought uncertainty to financial markets and the African corporate debt markets had effectively closed.
In the event, the issue was heavily subscribed and very well received by investors. As such, HTA were able to raise US$750 million. EAIF was the anchor investor in the bond and had initially committed to US$60million. Such was the private investor appetite for the bond that EAIF scaled back its investment to US$30 million. In backing the Helios Towers bond, EAIF achieved one of its fundamental objectives of mobilising private sector capital to grow Africa’s infrastructure.
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. Their anchor investment helped us to effectively reopen the African corporate debt capital market. EAIF has been a wholly supportive backer of Helios Towers since its creation. Once again, we are delighted to have it involved in our success.”
The proceeds of the bond will be primarily used to refinance existing debt and in part for meeting the ongoing capital expenditure needs of the business, which include a US$140m capex program forecasted for 2020. That 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.