Fitch May Rate Helios Towers 'B(EXP)'
(AllAfrica Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Fitch Ratings expects to assign telecom infrastructure group Helios Towers Nigeria Limited (HTN) a long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of 'B(EXP)' with a stable outlook.
Fitch has also assigned expected ratings of 'B(EXP)'/'RR4' to the proposed senior unsecured notes to be issued by Helios Towers Finance Netherlands B.V.
HTN plans to issue $225 million of senior unsecured notes maturing in 2019 through a fully owned Dutch finance subsidiary, Helios Towers Finance Netherlands B.V. The notes will be guaranteed by HTN and Tower Infrastructure Company Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of HTN, which owns part of the group's tower infrastructure assets.
The notes are rated at the same level as the company's IDR of 'B(EXP)' as they constitute a direct, unconditional and unsecured obligation of HTN and the other guarantor, and rank pari passu with all existing and future unsecured obligations of HTN.
The bond documentation includes cross-default and change of control provisions as well as incurrence tests limiting additional indebtedness and restricted payments.
The expected IDR assumes the successful issue of the proposed notes and full repayment of HTN's existing debt. Final ratings are contingent upon receipt of final documents conforming materially to the preliminary documentation that Fitch has received.
HTN is the second-largest independent tower company in Nigeria (based on the number of towers) with 1,187 towers at end-2013.
The company leases space to telecoms operators at its tower sites for antennas and other wireless transmission equipment and provides full site maintenance, including power management and security services, under long-term lease agreements.
"The Nigerian economy is seeing rapidly increasing demand for mobile and broadband communication services.
"Given a distinct lack of fixed-line infrastructure, poor mobile coverage and regulatory pressure to improve quality of service, mobile operators are expected to continue investing in voice and data capacity and deploy more base stations to benefit from this growth potential," the statement added
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