Bloomberg reports that South African telecoms operator MTN is reconsidering a plan to sell off its tower assets in its home market and enter into a leaseback system there, in a deal valued at up to USD2 billion. According to sources familiar with the matter, MTN is seeking to establish a joint venture to manage the wireless infrastructure – reported to comprise 19,000 sites nationwide – in which it would retain a large stake. While the Johannesburg-based operator is said to be in discussions with pan-African phone-tower operator IHS Holding, a deal has not been agreed yet.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, MTN first disclosed its intentions to sell off up to half of its base station infrastructure to improve efficiencies in August 2012. In early January 2013 the company entered into formal discussions with American Tower Corporation (ATC) over the sale of its tower assets in South Africa, though the deal fell through in November. According to bankers with knowledge of the situation, the Johannesburg-based firm re-evaluated its assets as ‘too important to sell’.