Helios, Verallia Prepare for September IPOs as Pipeline Heats Up

(Bloomberg) -- Helios Towers Plc, one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest mobile-phone tower operators, and French glass bottle maker Verallia are gearing up to kick off their initial public offerings in the next few weeks as Europe’s equity markets return from vacation.

Helios is preparing to launch its London IPO as early as September and could seek a valuation of as much as $3 billion, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. The company is working simultaneously on listings in London and Johannesburg, though the U.K. portion of the deal may proceed first, the people said.

Separately, Apollo Global Management LLC is planning to kick off Verallia’s planned Paris IPO in the first half of next month and has completed most preliminary investor meetings, people with knowledge of the matter said. A listing could value Verallia at about 4.5 billion euros ($5 billion), according to one of the people.

The buyout firm initially considered selling Verallia as it was weighing a listing, though it decided in the end that an IPO could generate better returns, one of the people said.

Weak Market

The deals could be among the first large listings in Europe this quarter in the worst market for IPOs in years amid escalating trade wars and the specter of Brexit later this year. By deal value, it’s the worst since 2013 and the quarter has seen the fewest companies choosing to go public in a decade, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Read more: Save the Date! Sept. 2 Getting London Listing Buzz

The Helios IPO is being led by joint global coordinators Bank of America Corp., Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Jefferies Financial Group Inc., the people said. EFG Hermes and Renaissance Capital are joint bookrunners, while STJ Advisors is independent adviser to Helios, according to the people.

Verallia is working with banks including Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA, Citigroup Inc., Credit Suisse Group AG and Deutsche Bank AG on its IPO plans, the people said. No final decisions have been made, and the timelines for the listings could still change, the people said.

Representatives for Helios, Bank of America and Jefferies declined to comment. Representatives for Standard Bank, EFG Hermes and Renaissance Capital didn’t respond to requests for comment, while an official at STJ Advisors didn’t answer a phone call seeking comment.

Soros Backing

A representative for Verallia declined to comment beyond an earlier statement from Chairman Michel Giannuzzi, who said at the time of the company’s first-half results in July that its contemplated IPO “is making good progress.” Representatives for Apollo, Barclays, BNP, Credit Suisse and Deutsche Bank declined to comment. A spokesman for Citigroup didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Helios would join a number of major London equity offerings from Africa this year, with Bharti Airtel Ltd.’s regional business listing in June. Nigerian payments firm Interswitch has revived plans for an IPO in London and Lagos later this year that could value the business at as much as $1.5 billion, Bloomberg News has reported.

In March last year, Helios announced plans for an initial public offering in London and Johannesburg to let shareholders such as Soros Fund Management LLC reduce their stakes. It quickly abandoned the plans with little explanation, saying two weeks later its owners had decided against a listing despite receiving “considerable interest” from potential investors.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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