Airtel Said to Be in Talks With ATC and Eaton for Sale of Africa Towers

Airtel Said to Be in Talks With ATC and Eaton for Sale of Africa Towers
Telecom major Bharti Airtel is in advanced stage talks with American Tower Corporation (ATC) and Eaton Towers for selling its tower assets in several African countries, including Nigeria, Ghana and Uganda, sources aware of the development said.

The deal is believed to be in the range of $1.5 to 2 billion (Rs. 9,000 to Rs. 12,000 crores approximately) sources added.

Airtel had in July sold 3,100 telecom towers in four African countries to Helios Towers Africa for an undisclosed sum. The company now has around 14,500 towers left in Africa.

When contacted, an Airtel spokesperson declined to comment.

The proceeds from the deal are likely to be used for reduction of debt. The net debt of the company at the end of June 2014 stood at Rs 57,744.3 crore.

Eaton Towers offers tower sharing on more than 1,500 towers in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa, whereas ATC too has services in these African countries.

Airtel had entered the African market in 2010 after acquiring Zain Telecom for about $10.7 billion (Rs. 65,000 crores approximately). The company now offers services in 17 African countries but is yet to turn profitable.

The net loss before exceptional items for Africa during the first quarter of current fiscal stood at $137 million (Rs. 830 crores approximately). Airtel Africa witnessed 10 percent growth in total revenues to $1.16 million (Rs. 7 crore approximately) for the reported quarter.

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