Helios Towers today announced an agreement to acquire 2.9k tower sites from Omantel, the largest wireless carrier of Oman in the Middle East, for $575m in cash. The transaction represents an enterprise value of $615m, after including $40m of capitalized ground leases and Helios Towers’ transactions costs. Finally, the transaction will close in the second-half of 2021.

Transaction Valuation – Omantel Towers

The Omantel assets will yield revenue of $59m and adjusted EBITDA of $40m (68% margin) in their first full-year of operations. Therefore, Helios Towers is valuing the Omantel tower portfolio at 15.4x EBITDA and $213k per site.

Additionally, Helios Towers has secured a build-to-suit (BTS) commitment with Omantel for at least 300 additional tower sites. Specifically, these sites will be built over the next seven years, with a corresponding $35m investment ($117k per site).

Overall, at full build-out, Helios Towers will own 3.2k towers in Oman, at a total cost of $650m. Indeed, this equates to a blended cost for the acquisition and build-to-suit (BTS) commitment of $204k per site.

Anchor Tenant for Helios Towers – Omantel

Helios Towers and Omantel will enter into a master service agreement (MSA) for an initial period of 15 years. In turn, this agreement increases Helios Towers’ contractual revenue to $5.4bn and extends its average remaining life to 8.8 years.

Physical Towers Infrastructure

Omantel’s initial 2.9k tower sites have a tenancy ratio of 1.2x. Indeed, this equates to 3.5k tenants with equipment on the company’s towers.

From a physical standpoint, 2.0k (68%) are ground-based towers, 0.7k (23%) are rooftop sites, and 0.3k (9%) are distributed antenna systems (DAS).

Transaction Rationale – Helios Towers

Helios Towers’ acquisition of Omantel’s towers, establishes the company’s presence in the Middle East region. Specifically, the country of Oman has a population of 5 million and a forecasted GDP compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3% through 2026.

Market Growth

Overall, Oman is forecast to need 3.0k new points-of-presence (PoPs) over the next six years. Specifically, this demand is from the incumbent wireless carriers, Omantel and Ooredoo, and also a new entrant. Indeed, in January 2021, Vodafone and Oman Future Telecommunications (OFT) received their license to operate in the country.

Increasing Scale

Helios Towers increases its geographic presence to 11 markets and pro forma tower count to 14.7k sites, including its build-to-suit (BTS) commitments.

Helios Towers Countries of Operation

Through the Omantel acquisition, Helios will achieve its company-level goal of 12.0k+ towers, prior to its 2025 target.

TowerCo Competition – Middle East

Given that Helios Towers is now expanding beyond the African continent, the company faces competition from both familiar and new competitors in the Middle East. Firstly, IHS Towers, a familiar competitor of Helios Towers in Africa, is also active in the Middle East, owning towers in Kuwait. Secondly, tower company TAWAL, which operates exclusively in Saudi Arabia, owns a portfolio of more than 15.0k towers.

Adam Simmons is the Founder & CEO of Dgtl Infra. He started his career with an S&P 500-listed big box retailer, in an operations management role. Adam's entrepreneurial "itch" led him to start a 5G-driven company, focused on innovative retail solutions using augmented reality and shoppable videos, which was eventually sold to an advertising and consulting group. After, realizing the potential of 5G, Adam shifted his efforts towards investing in the "building blocks" of 5G - known as digital infrastructure, completing a number of strategic investments, buying cellular towers, data centers and fiber networks.

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