Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

IHS Holdings, Africa’s largest operator of wireless towers, is reviving plans for an initial public offering (IPO) that could take place in 2020, say people familiar with the matter.

The company’s advisers are resuming preparations for an IPO and are considering seeking a valuation of about $8bn, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the plans are still private.

The company is weighing New York or London as listing venues, the people said. IHS scrapped plans for a US share sale in 2018 due to uncertainty around a presidential vote in Nigeria, its main market, Bloomberg News reported at the time.

In September, a Nigerian court upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s February election victory, dismissing a challenge by the main opposition candidate. IHS has made no final decision on an IPO and details of the offering could change, the people said.

A representative for the company declined to comment. A listing could allow IHS’s shareholders, which include Goldman Sachs Group, Investec Private Equity and African wireless carrier MTN Group, to reduce their stakes.

The IPO would add to growing deal activity among African tower companies, with Helios Towers selling shares earlier in October and SA’s Eaton Towers being sold to American Tower.

Helios braved a lacklustre London IPO market to raise £288m, pricing its stock at the bottom of the range to ensure enough interest from investors. The shares are still hovering near the listing price, giving Helios a market value of about £1.2bn.

IHS is expanding its network of more than 23,000 towers as growing African populations demand cheaper and faster mobile connections. The company has already tapped the debt market for $1.3bn.

The company said on Tuesday it had appointed former Florida governor Jeb Bush to the board to help its expansion across the continent and into the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Bush, the brother of former US president George W Bush, has his own merchant bank and joined the board of privately owned US tower company Vertical Bridge in 2017.

Bloomberg