Bharti Airtel Ltd has scrapped a deal to sell its telecom tower assets in six African countries to Eaton Towers, India’s biggest mobile-phone operator said in a stock market disclosure on Friday.
The Indian company had announced the pact in September last year. The deal involved Bharti selling more than 3,500 telecom towers to Eaton Towers with a 10-year contract to use them for its own network.
Although the company had not disclosed the deal amount, media reports had previously suggested it could be worth around $1 billion.
The deal, which was part of Bharti’s move to cut debt on its balance sheet, is the second such to fall through.
Earlier, Bharti Airtel cancelled a deal with Africa-focused PE firm Helios Towers Africa, owned by a consortium of investors including PE firm Helios Investment Partners and International Finance Corporation, to sell telecom tower assets in Tanzania and Chad.
Bharti Airtel has operations in 20 countries in Africa, after it snapped the assets of Kuwait’s Zain in the continent for $9 billion in 2010.
Eaton Tower offers tower sharing on more than 1,500 units in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa. The firm acquires, builds and manages shared telecom infrastructure, leasing it to mobile operators. It was founded in 2008 by Sanjiv Ahuja, former CEO of Orange; Alan Harper, former Vodafone UK MD; and Celtel co-founder Terry Rhodes.
On Friday, shares of Bharti Airtel fell 0.5 per cent to Rs 349.85 in a Mumbai market that gained 0.8 per cent.