Unaudited trading update for the nine months and quarter ended 30 September 2021

Strong quarter of organic tenancy growth with 2021 tenancy outlook reiterated

Transformational period underway for the Company through multiple acquisitions and CEO transition

London, 28 October 2021: Helios Towers plc (“Helios Towers”, “the Group” or “the Company”), the independent telecommunications infrastructure company, today announces results for the nine months to 30 September 2021 (“YTD 2021”).

 

YTD 2021

YTD 2020

Change

Q3 2021

Q2 2021

Change

Sites

8,765

7,222

+21%

8,765

8,603

+2%

Tenancies

17,773

15,082

+18%

17,773

17,090

+4%

Tenancy ratio

2.03x

2.09x

-0.06x

2.03x

1.99x

+0.04x

Revenue (US$m)

326.8

307.9

+6%

114.4

108.8

+5%

Adjusted EBITDA (US$m)1

175.0

166.5

+5%

60.8

58.4

+4%

Adjusted EBITDA margin1

54%

54%

-

53%

54%

-1ppt

Operating profit (US$m)

42.0

45.4

-7%

15.1

9.8

+54%

Portfolio free cash flow (US$m)1

118.7

133.3

-11%

44.9

36.8

+22%

Cash generated from operations (US$m)

98.6

145.9

-32%

52.9

15.7

+237%

Net debt (US$m)1

835.9

662.2

+26%

835.9

786.0

+6%

Net leverage1,2

3.4x

2.9x

+0.5x

3.4x

3.2x

+0.2x

1 Alternative Performance Measures are described in our defined terms and conventions.
2 Calculated as per the Senior Notes definition of net debt divided by annualised Adjusted EBITDA.

Kash Pandya, Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We are delighted to deliver our strongest quarter of organic tenancy additions in six years, with 683 incremental organic tenancies and we have a busy quarter ahead, reflecting the significant demand we are seeing from mobile operators across all our markets. Our tenancy pipeline remains robust and accordingly, we have reiterated our full-year tenancy outlook and look forward to supporting our customers’ network expansion in Q4 2021 and beyond.”

Tom Greenwood, Chief Operating Officer and CEO-Designate, added:

“Alongside the robust tenancy growth in the quarter, we also delivered solid revenue and Adjusted EBITDA growth, reflecting the contribution from our newest market, Senegal. Our new markets team is well progressed with the integration plans for each of the five other announced acquisitions, and we are excited to commence operations in these attractive markets, supporting our customers to efficiently expand mobile communications.”

Financial highlights

  • YTD 2021 revenue increased by 6% year-on-year to US$326.8m (YTD 2020: US$307.9m), driven by the acquisition of Free Senegal's tower portfolio in Q2 2021 and continued organic tenancy growth across the Group.
    • Q3 2021 revenue increased by 5% quarter-on-quarter to US$114.4m (Q2 2021: US$108.8m).
  • YTD 2021 Adjusted EBITDA increased by 5% year-on-year to US$175.0m (YTD 2020: US$166.5m), driven by the addition of Free Senegal’s tower portfolio and continued organic tenancy growth across our markets, partially offset by increased SG&A investment to support our expansionary strategy. YTD 2021 Adjusted EBITDA margin of 54% is flat year-on-year.
    • Q3 2021 Adjusted EBITDA increased by 4% quarter-on-quarter to US$60.8m (Q2 2021: US$58.4m), with Q3 2021 Adjusted EBITDA margin at 53% (Q2 2021: 54%).
  • YTD 2021 operating profit decreased by 7% year-on-year to US$42.0m (YTD 2020: US$45.4m) due to higher deal costs in the current year in relation to acquisitions, which is partially offset by continued Adjusted EBITDA growth.
    • Q3 2021 operating profit increased by 54% quarter-on-quarter to US$15.1m (Q2 2021: US$9.8m), due to lower deal costs in the quarter.
  • YTD 2021 portfolio free cash flow decreased by 11% year-on-year to US$118.7m (YTD 2020: US$133.3m), driven by an increase in corporate income tax, non-discretionary capex and lease payments.
    • Q3 2021 portfolio free cash flow increased by 22% quarter-on-quarter to US$44.9 million (Q2 2021: US$36.8m), driven by Adjusted EBITDA growth in addition to lower non-discretionary capex and lease payments.
  • YTD 2021 cash generated from operations decreased by 32% year-on-year to US$98.6m (YTD 2020: US$145.9m), due to higher deal costs and an escrow deposit in relation to the Oman transaction partially offset by Adjusted EBITDA growth.
    • Q3 2021 cash generated from operations increased by 237% quarter-on-quarter to US$52.9m (Q2 2021: US$15.7m), due to improved working capital and no recurrence of the one-off escrow deposit payment in the current quarter compared to Q2 2021.
  • Net leverage of 3.4x increased by +0.5x year-on-year (Q3 2020: 2.9x) and +0.2x quarter-on-quarter (Q2 2021: 3.2x), remaining below the Group's medium-term target range of 3.5x-4.5x.
  • Business underpinned by long-term contracted revenues of US$3.7bn (Q3 2020: US$2.7bn), of which 99% is from multinational MNOs, with an average remaining life of 7.6 years (Q3 2020: 6.6 years).

Operational highlights

  • Sites increased by 1,543 year-on-year to 8,765 sites (Q3 2020: 7,222 sites), reflecting 336 organic site additions and the acquisition of 1,207 sites from Free Senegal. Sites increased by 162 quarter-on-quarter (Q2 2021: 8,603).
  • Tenancies increased by 2,691 year-on-year to 17,773 tenants (Q3 2020: 15,082 tenants), reflecting 1,427 organic tenancy additions and 1,264 additional tenancies through the acquisition of Free Senegal’s passive infrastructure assets. Tenancies increased by 683 quarter-on-quarter (Q2 2021: 17,090).
  • Tenancy ratio decreased 0.06x year-on-year to 2.03x (Q3 2020: 2.09x), reflecting the dilutive impact of the acquired assets from Free Senegal (Senegal Q3 21 tenancy ratio: 1.06x). Excluding Senegal, the Group’s tenancy ratio expanded 0.09x year-on-year to 2.18x.
  • 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.

Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

  • 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 Company’s second Sustainable Business Report will be published in March 2022.
  • The Group will be publishing its carbon reduction roadmap on 25 November 2021, with management hosting a presentation at 9:30am GMT on the same day. To register for the event, please click here.

Strategic Updates

  • On 18 August 2021, Helios Towers announced its CEO transition. Kash Pandya will retire as Chief Executive Officer with effect from the Company's AGM in April 2022. Effective upon his retirement, Kash will move into a new role as non-executive Deputy Chairman of the Company. Tom Greenwood, Chief Operating Officer and CEO-Designate, will formally take up the Chief Executive Officer role from Kash following the AGM in April 2022.
  • Helios Towers' new markets team continue to integrate the five announced acquisitions, which upon closing and including committed BTS as part of these transactions, will increase Helios Towers' site count close to 15,000 towers across 11 markets.
  • The Group continues to progress with the closings of the five new announced acquisitions, with the integration process currently underway as planned. The Group anticipates the acquisitions in Madagascar (494 sites) and Malawi (735 sites) from Airtel Africa Group ("Airtel Africa") to close in Q4 2021, with the acquisition in Oman (2,890 sites) from Oman Telecommunications Company ("Omantel") expected to close in Q4 2021 or Q1 2022. The Group has also entered into an exclusive memorandum of understanding arrangements for the potential acquisition of Airtel Africa's passive infrastructure assets in Chad and Gabon, which are expected to close in or around Q1 2022, subject to obtaining a passive infrastructure license in each jurisdiction and other customary closing conditions.

2021 Outlook and guidance

  • Tenancy guidance for the established five markets remains unchanged, targeting 1,000 - 1,500 tenancies, which is supported by 853 organic tenancy additions year-to-date and a robust tenancy pipeline.
  • The Group has begun forward purchasing materials for rollout in 2022 supported by the strong tenancy pipeline. Consequently, capex is anticipated to increase by approximately US$30m, with the Group now expecting the following for FY 2021:
    • US$140m - US$170m of capex in Helios Towers’ established five markets (prior: US$110 – US$140m), of which US$20m - US$25m is non-discretionary capex.
    • US$215m of capital expenditure in our sixth market, Senegal, reflecting approximately US$190m of acquisition capex 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 Q4 2021.
    • US$575m consideration for the acquisition of Omantel’s tower portfolio, expected to close in Q4 2021 or Q1 2022.

Investor Relations
Chris Baker-Sams - Head of Strategic Finance and Investor Relations
+44 (0)752 310 1475

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, 28 October 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 Q3 2021 Results Conference Call

Event Name: Q3RESULTS
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: 162864

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.

Impact of COVID-19

The Group’s business and operations are inherently resilient against the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns, due to operating in the telecoms sector, which sees continued strong demand, and through having long-term revenue contracts with multinational MNOs. For further information see page 9 of the Group’s half-yearly financial report for the six months ended 30 June 2021, published on the Group’s website.

Alternative Performance Measures

The Group has presented a number of Alternative Performance Measures (“APMs”), which are used in addition to IFRS statutory performance measures. The Group believes that these APMs, which are not considered to be a substitute for or superior to IFRS measures, provide stakeholders with additional helpful information on the performance of the business. These APMs are consistent with how the business performance is planned and reported within the internal management reporting to the Board. Loss before tax, gross profit, non-current and current loans and long-term and short-term lease liabilities are the equivalent statutory measures (see ‘Certain defined terms and conventions’ on pages 7 and 8). For more information on the Group’s Alternative Performance Measures, see page 10-12 of the Group’s half-yearly financial report for the six months ended 30 June 2021, published on the Group’s website. Reconciliations of APMs to the equivalent statutory measure are included in the Group’s half-year and Annual financial reports.

TO VIEW THIS ANNOUNCEMENT ON THE LSE GO TO:

https://www.londonstockexchange.com/news-article/HTWS/q3-2021-results/15190092