Airtel Africa targets US$750m fundraising in London IPO

AFRICA – Airtel Africa Ltd, a subsidiary of Indian telecoms group Bharti Airtel Ltd, plans to raise gross proceeds of US$750 million through its listing on the main market of the London Stock Exchange.

The telecommunication firm said it would freely float at least 25 per cent of its shares as it looks to pay down its debt while up to a further 15 per cent will be made available under an overallotment option.

The continent’s second-largest mobile operator said the exact number of shares to be sold and the indicative price range of the offer will be determined “in due course”.

Following admission to trading, the group will have a net debt to ebitda ratio of 2.5. Airtel Africa operates a telecoms and mobile money business across 14 African countries.

In October last year, the firm raised US$1.25 billion in an initial round of pre-IPO funding from six global investors including SoftBank Group Corp, Warburg Pincus LLC and Temasek Holdings (Private) Ltd.

An additional US$200 million was raised in January from the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), valuing the company just under US$5 billion.

The telecoms operator is also seeking to list on the Nigerian Stock Exchange.

“The 14 countries where we operate offer strong GDP growth potential and have young and fast-growing populations, low customer and data penetration and inadequate banking infrastructure,” chief executive Raghunath Mandava said in a statement.

“These fast-growing markets provide us a great opportunity to grow both our telecom and payments businesses,” he added.

ndian owner Bharti Airtel last year ditched the IPO of African mobile phone mast firm Helios Towers, without giving any reason.

A source said at the time that the expected IPO price was too low for shareholders who had been valuing the firm at as much as Sh283.8 billion (USD2.8 billion).

Proceeds from the European IPO market have fallen to their lowest in more than a decade in the first three months of 2019, according to Refinitiv data.

Airtel Africa’s debut on the London market would follow that of Middle Eastern payments companies Finablr and Network International, which started trading over the past couple of months.

The company has appointed JP Morgan , Citigroup Inc , BofA Merrill Lynch , Absa Group Limited, Barclays Bank PLC , HSBC , BNP Paribas , Goldman Sachs International and Standard Bank Group Ltd as advisers.

News Reporter

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