LAGOS (Reuters) – Pan-African mobile telecoms infrastructure group IHS has agreed to buy Nigerian rival Helios Towers Nigeria (HTN) for an undisclosed sum, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Issam Darwis, who founded IHS, said Africa’s largest tower company, which builds and leases mobile telecoms towers in five countries across the continent, will acquire 1,211 towers spread across 34 of Nigeria’s 36 states.
IHS will acquire the entire issued share capital of HTN, IHS said in a statement.
“IHS will have full operational control of the underlying business and will market independent infrastructure sharing services to mobile network operators and internet service providers in Nigeria,” it said.
The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2016, it said.
IHS already has around 23,000 towers across Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zambia and Rwanda. It has around 15,000 towers in Nigeria, its biggest market and Africa’s most populace nation.
“We remain committed to the Nigerian tower market where coverage levels are yet to mature and explosive data growth continues,” Darwis said. “This is a statement of how confident we are in the Nigerian economy.”
Africa’s biggest economy and top oil producer is flagging due to the fall in crude prices and restrictions imposed by the central bank to defend its currency.
Building and maintaining mobile communications towers in Africa tends to be more expensive than in other regions because of security costs and electricity shortages, while revenue per user is often lower.
These costs have prompted many mobile operators to sell or lease towers to specialist companies such as IHS, which can reduce building and maintenance costs by hosting multiple tenants — mobile operators and internet providers — on the same towers.
(By Alexis Akwagyiram. Editing by Susan Thomas)