Airtel sells telecom towers in Africa

(Image source: Google/
Bharti Airtel
The deal will enable HTA to own more than 7,800 towers across Africa.

Bharti Airtel has signed an agreement with Helios Towers Africa (HTA) to sell its telecom towers. The deal was made for an undisclosed amount.

The New Delhi-based company will divest the towers across four countries in Africa, a move that will help it reduce debt and capital expenditure and allow Airtel to focus on its core business and customers.

The deal will enable HTA to own more than 7,800 towers across Africa, making it the largest independent tower company in the continent, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

“It is an important step towards the consolidation of tower assets across Africa that will drive industry-wide cost efficiencies through infrastructure sharing,” Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV Chairman Manoj Kohli said.

“The agreement will further help in accelerating the growth of telecom services in the continent and at the same time benefit the environment by avoiding duplication of infrastructure,” he added.

HTA is jointly owned by Helios Investment Partners, Quantum Strategic Partners, Albright Capital Management, RIT Capital Partners and the International Finance Corporation. Helios Investment Partners is backed by billionaire investor George Soros.

The deal is subject to statutory and regulatory approvals in the respective countries, it said, adding tower operations-related personnel will also be transferred from Airtel to HTA.

For Bharti Airtel, the divestment is part of its overall strategy to sell its 15,000 towers to independent tower companies in the continent. The Indian company, which has operations in 20 countries, will have “full access” to the towers under a long-term lease contract with HTA.

Bharti entered Africa in 2010 with the $90 billion acquisition of Zain in the continent. According to various media reports, Bharti AIrtel was in talks with Helios, American Tower Corporation and Eaton among others to sell its tower business.