By Dinesh Nair, Myriam Balezou and Loni Prinsloo Bloomberg
Wireless towers operator IHS Holding Ltd. has hired banks to oversee what may be the biggest initial public offering of an African company in the U.S., according to people with knowledge of the matter.
IHS Holding has selected Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. as global coordinators for a listing that could value Africa’s largest operator of wireless towers at as much as $7 billion, said the people. The Mauritius-based company is leaning toward a New York IPO which could happen as soon as the first half of the year, they said.
While Citigroup and JPMorgan have top spots on the IPO, other lenders will likely be added to the syndicate, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private. No final decisions have been taken and the timeline could be pushed back, depending on market conditions.
Representatives for IHS, Citigroup and JPMorgan declined to comment.
The company would prefer a U.S. listing to London in part because some of the largest tower companies such as American Tower Corp. and Crown Holdings Inc. are based there and trade at higher valuation multiples, the people said. At a valuation of up to $7 billion, it would be the biggest listing of an African company in the U.S., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
IHS, whose owners include Goldman Sachs Group Inc and South African wireless carrier MTN Group Ltd., started reviving work on a share sale late last year after scrapping plans back in 2018 due to uncertainty around a presidential vote in Nigeria, its main market, Bloomberg News reported at the time.
With operations in Nigeria and other African countries, IHS was seeking to raise about $1 billion in New York, people familiar with the matter said at the time. A Nigerian court last year upheld President Muhammadu Buhari’s election victory, dismissing a challenge by the main opposition candidate.
The company expanding its network of about 24,000 towers as growing African populations demand cheaper and faster mobile connections. It tapped the debt market for $1.3 billion last year.
The company plans to enter new markets in the Middle East and Southeast Asia to bulk up ahead of a potential attempt to sell shares in either New York or London, Chief Executive Officer Sam Darwish said in an interview in April last year.
–With assistance from Swetha Gopinath and Archana Narayanan.