Helios Towers signs agreement with SA Towers
Company’s first investment in South Africa
Helios Towers Ltd. (“Helios Towers” or “Group”), the independent telecoms tower infrastructure company, today announces that it has signed an agreement with the South African tower company, SA Towers (Pty) Ltd (“SA Towers”) whereby the Group will acquire a controlling interest in the business of SA Towers and fund the business’s future rollout. It is the Group’s first investment in the country following the establishment of its partnership (“HTSA”) with Vulatel (Pty) Ltd (“Vulatel”), announced on 14 January 2019.
SA Towers was launched in 2016 by local entrepreneurs Rico Marx and Harm Kelderman, backed by Africa Property Partners (“APP”), a real estate private investment business. SA Towers has built strong relationships with all the Mobile Network Operators (“MNOs”) in the South African market and established a team of professionals that worked diligently to build a pipeline of potential tower sites on more than 500 urban locations across the country, ready to be built or in the process of being permitted.
This investment will accelerate Helios Towers’ entry into South Africa. As part of the agreement, the Group will invest into the platform and provide management expertise to accelerate the conversion of the pipeline. SA Towers’ team will integrate into the Helios Towers organisation and manage the day-to-day South African tower operations, bringing to bear their significant knowledge of the market and local customer relationships. HTSA will fund and support the build out and expansion of the pipeline of permitted locations.
This partnership will enable Helios Towers to rapidly scale its South Africa operations, leveraging off SA Towers’:
- Immediate pipeline of urban build-to-suit tower opportunities.
- Significant knowledge of the South African market.
- Regional relationships with the MNOs.
- Town planning expertise and capabilities for managing building permit applications with municipalities.
South Africa is a very attractive infrastructure market with positive demographic trends and a high demand for advanced mobile and other telecommunications services. HTSA expects to be able to support the growth strategies of all the players by building towers and other open access infrastructure in the country, providing support for its customers’ current 4G needs and additional requirements for their extensive rollout plans for 5G networks.
This South African expansion provides Helios Towers further geographic diversification into a fifth country, one of the largest, fastest-growing and most attractive markets in Africa.
Commenting on this agreement, Kash Pandya, CEO of Helios Towers said today:
“We are thrilled to announce this acquisition of SA Towers’ business, which will be made via our new partnership with Vulatel. It is consistent with our strategy of entering new markets in sub-Saharan Africa to further expand our geographic footprint. This is an innovative way of entering a new market by partnering with local entrepreneurs to create significant value for all stakeholders. We think the combination of Helios Towers’ expertise in tower infrastructure management and strong balance sheet with SA Towers’ entrepreneurial management team, tower pipeline and local relationships, puts HTSA into an ideal position to meet the needs of the MNOs and their customers in South Africa.”
Rico Marx, co-founder and director of SA Towers added:
“We’re delighted to be partnering with an experienced and well-funded tower operator such as Helios Towers. Together with the MNOs, whose relationships with SA Towers we value highly, we have ambitious expansion plans in order to meet the burgeoning demand for high quality tower infrastructure by the MNOs fuelled by their desire to meet the needs of their customers. In partnership with Helios Towers we will be able to accelerate the development of this tower pipeline. We look forward to working within the Helios Towers’ team to support the forecasted strong growth of mobile networks of the MNOs in South Africa for the coming years.”
Edward Bridges / Stephanie Ellis
FTI Consulting LLP
+44 (0)20 3727 1000
About Helios Towers (“HT”)
- Helios Towers is a leading independent telecommunications tower infrastructure company in Africa, having established one of the continent's most extensive tower portfolio with over 6,500 towers across five countries. HT builds and manages telecom passive infrastructure, leasing it to mobile operators.
- Helios Towers owns and operates more sites than any other operator in each of Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo (“DRC”), and Congo Brazzaville. It is also a leading operator in Ghana with a strong urban presence.
- HTSA is a partnership with local telecommunications company Vulatel (Pty) Ltd to expand into South Africa, one of the largest and most attractive markets of the African continent.
- Helios Towers pioneered the sale-leaseback model in Africa, 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.
- Investors in the company include: Helios Investment Partners, Quantum Strategic Partners, Albright Capital Management LLC, RIT Capital Partners Plc, the International Finance Corporation and Millicom International Cellular.
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About SA Towers
- SA Towers is one of South Africa’s fastest growing tower platforms with a pipeline of over 500 sites.
- The company was founded in 2016 by Rico Marx, Harm Kelderman and APP.
- SA Towers has leveraged its substantial property expertise in South Africa, building an expert town planning and permitting team that is specialised in getting permits in South Africa’s high-growth urban areas.