Unaudited results for the three months ended 31 March 2021

Transformational period for the Company through multiple acquisitions

Acquisitions establish Helios Towers as the most diverse Towerco in the Africa & Middle-East region

2021 outlook for existing markets unchanged

London, 20 May 2021: Helios Towers plc (“Helios Towers”, “the Group” or “the Company”), the independent telecommunications infrastructure company, today announces results for the three months to 31 March 2021.

 

Q1 2021

Q1 2020

Change

Q1 2021

Q4 2020

Change

Sites

7,358

6,991

+5%

7,358

7,356

0%

Tenancies

15,732

14,677

+7%

15,732

15,656

0%

Tenancy ratio

2.14x

2.10x

+0.04x

2.14x

2.13x

+0.01x

Revenue (US$m)

103.6

101.8

+2%

103.6

106.1

-2%

Adjusted EBITDA (US$m)(1)

55.8

54.0

+3%

55.8

60.1

-7%

Adjusted EBITDA margin(1)

54%

53%

+1ppt

54%

57%

-3ppt

Portfolio free cash flow (US$m)(1)

37.0

45.9

-19%

37.0

41.1

-10%

Net debt (US$m)(1)

673.2

653.3

+3%

673.2

692.4

-3%

Net leverage(1, 2)

3.0x

3.0x

-

3.0x

2.9x

+0.1x

(1) Alternative Performance Measures are described in our defined terms and conventions.
(2) Calculated as net debt divided by last quarter annualised Adjusted EBITDA for the period.

Financial highlights

  • Revenue for the three months to 31 March 2021 increased by 2% year-on-year to US$103.6m (Q1 2020: US$101.8m), driven by tenancy growth across the Group.
    • While underlying growth continued as expected, reported revenue decreased by 2% quarter-on-quarter, driven by a US$3m decrease in DRC revenue following a catch-up payment for amendment revenue in the fourth quarter.
  • Adjusted EBITDA for the three months to 31 March 2021 increased by 3% year-on-year to US$55.8m (Q1 2020: US$54.0m). Adjusted EBITDA margin of 54% reflects a 1ppt year-on-year increase (Q1 2020: 53%).
    • Q1 2021 Adjusted EBITDA declined by 7% quarter-on-quarter (Q4 2020: US$60.1m), driven by the decrease in DRC revenues and higher costs in that market following an increase in the DRC licence fee to 3% of local revenues.
  • Portfolio free cash flow for the three months to 31 March 2021 decreased by 19% year-on-year to US$37.0m (Q1 2020: US$45.9m), due to timing of corporate income tax payments and non-discretionary capex.
    • Q1 2021 portfolio free cash flow declined by 10% quarter-on-quarter (Q4 2020: US$41.1m).
  • Net leverage of 3.0x remained flat year-on-year and increased by +0.1x quarter-on-quarter (Q4 2020: 2.9x), below the Group’s target range of 3.5x–4.5x.
  • Business underpinned by long term contracted revenues of US$2.8bn, of which 99% is from large multinational MNOs, with an average remaining life of 7 years.

Operational highlights

  • Operational performance continues at very high levels, achieving 99.99% power uptime for the fourth consecutive quarter. In January and February 2021, the Company achieved less than one minute downtime per tower per week, the best power uptime performance in the Company’s history.
  • Tenancies increased by 1,055 year-on-year to 15,732 tenants (Q1 2020: 14,677 tenants). Tenancies increased by 76 quarter-on-quarter (Q4 2020: 15,656), reflecting typical seasonality in the first quarter.
  • Sites increased by 367 year-on-year to 7,358 sites (Q1 2020: 6,991 sites). Sites increased by 2 quarter-on-quarter (Q4 2020: 7,356), driven by site additions in South Africa and Ghana, partially offset by site consolidations in Tanzania.
  • Tenancy ratio increased year-on-year by 0.04x to 2.14x (Q1 2020: 2.10x). Q1 2021 tenancy ratio marginally increased by 0.01x quarter-on-quarter to 2.14x (Q4 2020: 2.13x).
  • Helios Towers continues to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on its operations. The telecommunications sector has been classified as an ‘essential service’ in our markets, allowing us to operate at our normal high levels of service. To date, there has been minimal impact on the Group’s delivery of service and operational execution.

Strategic Updates

  • On 11 May 2021, Helios Towers announced it had entered into an agreement to acquire 2,890 sites from Oman Telecommunications Company (“Omantel”) for US$575m, with further growth anticipated through a 300 build-to-suit (“BTS”) site commitment and colocation lease-up. The acquisition supports the Company’s entry into one of the fastest growing markets in the Middle-East region, and further diversifies its portfolio with an acquisition that meets Helios Towers’ acquisition criteria.
  • On 18 May 2021, Helios Towers closed the acquisition of Free Senegal’s passive infrastructure assets, adding approximately 1,200 sites to its portfolio.
  • On 23 March 2021, Helios Towers announced it had signed agreements with Airtel Africa Group companies (“Airtel Africa”) to acquire its passive infrastructure operating companies in Madagascar and Malawi and enter into exclusive memorandum of understanding arrangements for the potential acquisition of its passive infrastructure assets in Chad and Gabon (together, the “Transactions”). The Transactions represent 2,227 sites with further growth anticipated through 315 committed BTS and colocation lease-up.
  • These acquisitions, together with the committed BTS, increase Group site count close to 15,000 towers across 11 markets, delivering the Group’s 2025 vision of expanding to 12,000+ towers in at least 8 markets.
  • Upon closing these acquisitions, Helios Towers will become the most diverse independent telecommunications infrastructure company across Africa and the Middle-East.
  • The acquisition of Omantel’s passive infrastructure assets is deemed a Class 1 transaction under the Financial Conduct Authority’s Listing Rules and, as a result, is subject to approval by Helios Towers’ shareholders. Further detail on the acquisition and procedure for voting at the General Meeting, scheduled for 4 June 2021, can be found at: www.heliostowers.com/investors/omantel-tower-portfolio-acquisition/

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

  • The Group published its first Sustainable Business Report on 15 March 2021. The report provides a detailed review of the Group’s progress against its strategic objectives and ambitions.
  • On 19 November 2020 Helios Towers unveiled its integrated Sustainable Business Strategy, including its long term targets and contribution to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The presentation can be found at: heliostowers.com/investors/results-reports-and-presentations/
  • Helios Towers’ Sustainable Business Strategy enables the company to deliver a positive impact for all stakeholders, in line with its purpose of driving the growth of communications in Africa and the Middle-East.
  • The Group is currently developing its carbon emissions reduction target and expects to publish this target in H2 2021.
  • The Group will also be submitting its first climate questionnaire to CDP in July 2021, which is expected to deliver Helios Towers’ first CDP score.

Guidance and outlook

  • Guidance for the existing five markets remains unchanged, targeting 1,000 – 1,500 organic tenancies per annum in the medium term and US$110m – US$140m of capex in 2021, of which US$20m – US$25m is non-discretionary capex.
  • The Company also anticipates capital expenditure in 2021 related to the previously announced acquisitions:
    • US$215m of capital expenditure in Senegal, reflecting the acquisition consideration of approximately US$190m and US$25m of growth, upgrade and non-discretionary capex.
    • US$108m consideration for the acquisition of Airtel Africa’s passive infrastructure companies in Madagascar and Malawi, expected to close in or around Q4 2021.
    • US$575m consideration for the acquisition of Omantel’s tower portfolio, expected to close in H2 2021.

Kash Pandya, Chief Executive Officer of Helios Towers said:

“It has been a transformational start to 2021 for the Company. We signed acquisition agreements that upon closing, increase our operational presence to 11 markets and bring site count close to 15,000 towers, including the BTS commitments from customers. Through these acquisitions, Helios Towers will become the most diversified tower company in Africa and the Middle-East and deliver on our five-year targets, well-ahead of plan.

We are also delighted to achieve record power uptime in the quarter, delivering best-in-class service for our customers. While adjusted EBITDA declined slightly in Q1, importantly our full-year guidance remains unchanged and we continue to expect the business to deliver another year of sustainable growth.”

Investor Relations
Chris Baker-Sams - Corporate Finance Manager
+44 (0)752 310 1475
investors@heliostowers.com 

Media relations
Edward Bridges / Stephanie Ellis
FTI Consulting LLP
+44 (0)20 3727 1000 

Helios Towers’ management will host a conference call for analysts and institutional investors at 09.30 BST on Thursday, 20 May 2021. For the best user experience, please access the conference via the webcast. You can pre-register and access the event using the link below:

Registration Link - Helios Towers Q1 Conference Call Results  

Event Name: Q1RESULTS
Password: HELIOS

If you intend to participate in Q&A during the call or are unable to use the webcast, please dial in using the details below:

  • Europe & International: +44 203 936 2999
  • South Africa (local): 087 550 8441
  • USA (local): +1 646 664 1960
  • Passcode: 095552

Read the full announcement here

About Helios Towers

  • Helios Towers is a leading independent telecommunications infrastructure company, having established one of the most extensive tower portfolios across Africa. It builds, owns and operates telecom passive infrastructure, providing services to mobile network operators.
  • Helios Towers owns and operates telecommunication tower sites in Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo Brazzaville, Ghana, South Africa and Senegal. Following recent acquisition agreements and subject to regulatory and certain shareholder approvals, Helios Towers expects to establish a presence in five new markets across Africa and the Middle-East over the next 12 months. Including these acquisitions and committed BTS, the Group’s total site count is expected to increase from over 7,300 towers as reported in Q1 2021 to approaching 15,000.
  • Helios Towers pioneered the model in Africa of buying towers that were held by single operators and providing services utilising the tower infrastructure to the seller and other operators. This allows wireless operators to outsource non-core tower-related activities, enabling them to focus their capital and managerial resources on providing higher quality services more cost-effectively.

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https://www.londonstockexchange.com/news-article/HTWS/q1-2021-results/14984223