Bharti Airtel has entered into an agreement with American Tower Corporation (ATC) for the sale of about 1,350 mobile towers in East African country Tanzania.
Under the agreement, ATC may acquire up to approximately 100 additional sites currently in development for an additional consideration, Airtel said in a BSE filing, without disclosing the financial details of the transaction.
“The transaction is expected to close during the first half of 2016, subject to customary closing conditions and regulatory approvals,” Airtel said.
Airtel will be the anchor tenant on the portfolio under a lease with a ten-year initial term, it said.
“The proposed transaction is a continuation of our stated philosophy of divesting passive infrastructure assets and promoting sharing of towers to enhance operational efficiencies that will further the overall growth of telecom services,” Bharti Airtel MD and CEO (Africa) Christian de Faria said.
“Airtel remains committed to Tanzania and will continue to invest in its operations and serve customers with world-class services,” the official said.
Hal Hess, EVP and President, EMEA, of American Tower said, “We are extremely pleased to announce our entry into Tanzania and expand our partnership with Airtel, one of the world s leading multinational network operators”.
The release further said that the tower sale agreements allow Airtel to focus on its core business and customers, besides helping deleverage through debt reduction, and significantly reducing the on-going capital expenditure on passive infrastructure.
Bharti Airtel has decided to exit the tower business in Africa where it had around 14,000 towers.
ATC has also acquired Airtel’s mobile tower infrastructure in Nigera. The telecom major sold its mobile tower to Eaton in Kenya, Ghana, Uganda and Burkina Faso.
Helios acquired its tower assets in Congo B and IHS in Rwanda and Zambia.
Sources said that after the deal with ATC, total money raised from divestment of mobile towers in Africa by Airtel would around USD 2 billion.
Airtel’s net debt at the end of December stood at Rs 78,816 crore.
Till October, Airtel completed the sale of about 8,300 mobile towers in Africa for USD 1.7 billion (about Rs 11,000 crore), and used it for reducing debt.
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