Pan-African mobile operator MTN, Bharti Airtel and Orange are in talks to sell off more mobile network towers across the continent.
According to media reports, MTN plans to sell towers valued at $1 billion in Nigeria, and Bharti of India is selling about 15,000 of its towers across 17 countries for about $2 billion. Orange is said to be looking at selling a number of towers in sub-Saharan Africa and Egypt.
According to Business Day, Bharti’s sale is likely to result in a split of the towers between multiple buyers, one of the people said. Carriers in Africa are offloading their assets, which cost more to run on the continent than in other parts of the world because of the need for backup generators and batteries to guard against power failures.
A representative who wished to remain anonymous, hinted that IHS, American Tower Corporation, Helios Towers and Eaton Towers could be in talks to acquire the assets of MTN and Bharti. “These companies, backed by cash from wealthy investors including billionaire George Soros and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., have bought thousands of towers from carriers in the region in the past two years.” he says.
South Africa’s Vodacom has to date, sold 1 149 mobile network towers to Helios Towers Africa in Tanzania.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor