Bharti Airtel to Sell over 3,500 Telecom Towers in Africa to Eaton Towers

Bharti Airtel will sell more than 3,500 of its mobile towers in six African countries to telecommunications tower firm, Eaton Towers, in a bid to reduce costs.

Bharti Airtel will lease back the towers from Eaton under a 10-year pact, the companies said in a statement. They did not disclose financial details of the deal. The agreements are subject to statutory and regulatory approvals in the respective African countries.

Back in July, Bharti Airtel had agreed to sell about 3,100 towers in four African countries to Helios Towers Africa.

"This agreement [with Eaton] represents the next phase of Airtel's growth journey in Africa. We are strong proponents of telecoms infrastructure sharing, which results in industry-wide cost efficiencies," Manoj Kohli, Chairman, Bharti Airtel International Netherlands BV (BAIN), said in a media statement.

Eatorn Towers Chief Executive Alan Harper said this "transformational deal" would give Eaton Towers the most diversified tower portfolio across Africa. "We are proud to be chosen by Bharti Airtel as their key partner in these six countries," Alan Harper, said in a statement. The agreement will expand Eaton Towers' Africa coverage to 7 countries with over 5000 towers.

The latest tower sale is part of India's top mobile operator's plans to divest most of its 15,000-plus towers in Africa, in a process that could reportedly raise up to $2 billion.

The latest pact with Eaton will enable Bhari Airtel focus on its core business and customers, help it to deleverage through debt reduction, and will significantly reduce its on-going capital expenditure on passive infrastructure.

Kohli added that the Eaton pact would lead to "superior usage of passive infrastructure and help drive the proliferation of affordable mobile services across Africa".

SOURCE: The Economic Times