Tech will drive African IPOs

Telecoms, e-commerce and technology will be the driving force behind many of Africa’s coming initial public share offers (IPOs) as the continent’s telecom, media and technology (TMT) sector continues to grow fast. Ben Nice, editor of specialist news provider TMT Finance, says in a press release: “Despite global volatility, regional macroeconomic uncertainty, and a rout on commodity prices, recent forecasts are predicting that the next 12 months could see a rebound with IPOs set to reach their highest levels in Africa since 2010, and several TMT companies looking likely to float in 2016 and 2017.

Africa Internet Group (AIG) – which runs the Jumia ecommerce brand – just raised a further EUR75 million ($84m) from Orange, in addition to the recent EUR300m ($338m) from investors including Goldman Sachs, MTN and Rocket Internet. The company is the first real African tech unicorn and we understand that it will be targeting an IPO (initial public offer) by 2017, and is also on the hunt for a new CFO. Orange Egypt (formerly Mobinil) is also preparing to list shares in Cairo to fund US$3.2bn investment into infrastructure, and IHS Towers, the Lagos-based mobile tower operator, is also expected to float over the next 12 to 24 months.”

Other African tech which may bring IPOs in the near and medium term include: Dark Fibre Africa of South Africa, Nigerian payment services provider InterSwitch, Africa’s largest independent fibre operator Liquid Telecom, and South African media company Primedia. According to a previous news story, Interswitch may scoop the prize (and publicity) as Africa’s first tech unicorn, as it is working on a London and Lagos IPO for Q2-Q4 and could be worth at or close to $1bn.

AIG, which was founded in 2012 and now operates in 23 countries with 71 companies, is said to be planning an IPO by 2017. Jumia e-commerce is present in 11 countries and linked to online and mobile consumer services such as Kaymu (shopping), hellofood (food delivery), Jovago (hotel booking) and classified ads Vendito (general merchandise), Lamudi (real estate), Everjobs (jobs) and Carmudi (vehicles).

Orange Egypt, rebranded from Mobinil in March, is preparing an IPO for the Egyptian Exchange, with an offering of up to 20% of the shares. It has 33.4m customers and is Egypt’s second biggest operator after Vodafone. In March it announced Orange intended to invest EGP2.5bn ($281.5m) into upgrading networks and services.

IHS Towers, based in Lagos and owner of over 23,300 mobile phone towers in Nigeria, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Zambia and Rwanda, is expected to float shares within 12-24 months. In December, chief executive and founder Issam Darwish said it would be “the biggest IPO ever in Africa”.

Next week on 14 June, over 200 industry and finance executives, including African telecom CEOs, private equity investors and leading international bankers and advisers, are meeting in London to talk investments at the 7th annual TMT Finance & Investment Africa 2016 conference. Sessions include: Africa telecom leadership; TMT M&A; broadband investment; mobile towers; raising finance for Africa TMT; datacentres Africa; private equity Africa; mobile money and M-Commerce; and digital Africa. Speakers include leaders from Millicom, Google, IHS, Helios, Eaton Towers, Avanti Communications, BNP Paribas, Citi, UBS, Standard Bank, IFC, the World Bank, TransferTo, Icolo, Bima, Dentons and Hardiman Telecommunications.

Tech wizards to IPO (from www.africainternetgroup.com)

Tech wizards to IPO (from www.africainternetgroup.com)

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