Airtel close to final deal for tower sale to Eaton

Airtel Tower   jbdodane   FlickrAirtel is in discussions with prospective investors for the sale of its towers in Tanzania and Chad. (Image source: jbdodane/Flickr)Bharti Airtel is about to close a US$186mn deal it reached last year with Eaton Towers for the sale of its 1,100 towers in Kenya

As reported in the weekly, The EastAfrican, the deal was at an advanced stage and closure could be announced “in the next few weeks”, according to sources who spoke to the weekly. “The deal is close to the final stage and I do not see any hitches coming up,” said the source.

“We are selling assets to reposition ourselves, although we are being affected by huge currency depreciation in Southern, West and East Africa,” said Christophe Soulet, executive director for Airtel Africa. He declined to comment on when the deal will be finally closed.

The sale agreement was signed in September 2014 for 3,500 towers in Kenya, Rwanda, Ghana, Uganda, Zambia and Tanzania. The proceeds were to be used by Airtel to settle debts and raise money to turn around its loss-making business in the continent. The telecommunications company has struggled to turn a profit in Kenya too, given the intense competition.

The company has already sold its towers in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana, Rwanda and Congo (Brazzaville) for US$1.3bn. The sale is expected to help the firm focus on products and customer service.

The firm’s other towers were bought by IHS, Helios, Eaton and American Towers as competition for telecommunications infrastructure in Africa heats up, buoyed by a changing legal regime in favour of network sharing.

Last week, the company signed an agreement with Liquid Telecom to provide the latter with a terrestrial fibre network and to connect the company’s mobile base stations and enterprises.

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