College Hill to handle PR for planned IPO of Celtel

Celtel International, the largest mobile phone operator in sub-Saharan Africa, is preparing a financial comms offensive ahead of its likely listing on the London Stock Exchange.

The firm is also considering a listing on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in South Africa, which proved a key factor in its decision to appoint incumbent adviser College Hill Associates to handle an expanded brief following an account review.

Celtel chief strategy officer Terry Rhodes said Celtel had stipulated that its financial PR agency would need IPO experience and knowledge of business in Africa.

While Celtel has not yet declared its intention to float, Rhodes said College Hill would be expected to plug the company to the City as one of the world’s fastest growing firms.

In the 13 countries where Celtel operates, around three out of ten people have a mobile phone, whereas market penetration of mobile operators is much higher in other parts of the world.

Celtel has over four million customers and last month announced a 47 per cent increase in revenues for the first half of 2004, from £112m in 2003 to £165m. The company made a net profit of £31m, up from £7m in the previous year. On average, Celtel took about £12.5 from each user.

The company said the substantial increase in business was down to its £139m investment to acquire a majority stake in Kenya’s mobile network operator KenCell.

The purchase extended Celtel’s reach into East Africa, making it the only mobile operator with the opportunity to develop a network covering Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania.

College Hill fought off four agencies to keep the Celtel business and handle PR around the float.

Although Rhodes would not comment on the pitch, the other agencies are believed to have been Smithfield, Capital MS&L, Finsbury and Citigate Dewe Rogerson.

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