Airtel selling 3,500 more African towers

Dylan Bushell-Embling
09 Sep 2014

India's Bharti Airtel has arranged to sell its portfolio of over 3,500 telecom towers in six African countries to Eaton Towers.

Under the terms of the deal, Airtel will transfer ownership of the assets to Eaton and then lease back the towers under a 10-year contract.

Airtel has been seeking to sell its African tower assets for some time, in order to cut back on infrastructure costs and allow it to focus on its core mobile business in the continent.

In July, the company arranged to sell 3,100 towers in four African countries to Helios Towers. The transaction is rumored to have been worth $400 million, which serves as a potential indication of the size of the Eaton deal.

Bharti Airtel International chairman Manoj Kohli said the tower sale is also in line with the company's strategy of promoting infrastructure sharing.

“We are the pioneers and strong proponents of telecoms infrastructure sharing, which results in industry-wide cost efficiencies,” he said.

“The agreement with Eaton Towers is an extension of this philosophy, and will lead to far superior utilisation of passive infrastructure and help drive the proliferation of affordable mobile services across Africa.”

Airtel operates in 17 African nations, and will have an estimated 8,500 towers left in the continent after completing the sale to Eaton. This suggests that more deals could be on the horizon.

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