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MTN seeks to cash in on IHS Towers IPO

Telecoms giant’s stake in tower company is valued at about R27 billion.

MTN Group could cash in from an initial public offering of Africa’s largest telecommunication towers company by selling down a stake valued by the wireless carrier at about R27 billion ($2.3 billion).

IHS Towers, of which Johannesburg-based MTN owns about 29%, 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 and Eaton Towers 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% of its shares will be freely traded after the sale. IHS Towers declined to comment.

Read: Helios plans IPO seeking $2bn plus value

MTN, Africa’s largest mobile-phone company by sales, is planning to cut its debt, Mupita said. Borrowings rose to R57 billion ($4.8 billion) in 2017 from R52 billion the previous year. The shares rose 1.2% to R133.60 as of 3:30 pm in Johannesburg, valuing the company at R252 billion. 

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

© 2018 Bloomberg

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