Airtel offloads 3,500 towers to Eaton Towers, eyes USD1bn tower sale in Nigeria

8 Sep 2014

Bharti Airtel has signed a ten-year leaseback deal with Eaton Towers under which it will sell more than 3,500 telecom towers in six African countries to the regional tower company and lease access to the infrastructure, the Economic Times writes. The Indian-backed cellco, which operates across 17 African nations, said that the deal will allow it to focus on its core business and reduce capital expenditure on passive infrastructure. The provider stopped short of revealing the financial details of the agreement, however. The deal expands Eaton’s reach from three countries (Uganda, Ghana and South Africa) to seven and will bolster its tower holdings to more than 5,000 towers.

In a related development, Airtel is reportedly close to agreeing the sale of its towers in Nigeria, with American Tower Corporation (ATC) believed to be the frontrunner for the infrastructure. Airtel is expected to finalise a deal to sell its 4,000 towers for more than USD1 billion in the next three weeks. A person aware of the situation told the Economic Times that ATC had entered the highest bid, followed by IHS Holding. The Indian group is expected to use the proceeds of the sale to trim its debt burden. The two pacts follow on the heels of a similar sale in early July this year which saw Bharti Airtel offload 3,100 towers in four nations to Helios Towers Africa.