Airtel Africa, a major provider of telecommunications and mobile money services, with a presence in 14 countries across Africa, has signed an agreement to sell its telecommunications tower companies in Madagascar and Malawi.

A separate agreement proposes the sale of tower assets in Chad and Gabon to the same purchaser.

The purchaser is Helios Towers, an independent telecommunications infrastructure company operating in Africa.

Airtel’s tower portfolios in the two markets together comprise 1,229 towers which form part of the group’s wireless telecommunications infrastructure network.

The transactions comprises two separate agreements, one in respect of each jurisdiction. Both deals are subject to customary closing conditions including required regulatory approvals and are not inter-conditional on each other.

The transactions are expected to close in or around calendar Q4 2021.

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By GlobalData

Aggregate gross consideration for the transactions is expected to be approximately $108m.

Airtel Africa will continue to develop, maintain, and operate the equipment

Under the terms of the transactions, the group’s Airtel Africa’s subsidiaries will continue to develop, maintain, and operate their equipment on the towers under separate lease arrangements.

These arrangements are largely made in local currencies, with the Purchaser.

In addition, as part of the transactions, the group has agreed to build to suit commitments with the purchaser for an additional 195 sites across Madagascar and Malawi over the three years following completion.

For these a further $11m of consideration is payable.

The potential sale of its tower assets in Chad and Gabon is part of an exclusive memorandum of understanding.

Significant portfolios of towers are involved in the deals

The proposed transactions are subject to the signing of definitive legal agreements for sale, including customary closing conditions such as required regulatory approvals.

It is envisaged that the proposed transactions will also incorporate lease arrangements with the purchaser and build to suit commitments in Chad and Gabon.  The proposed transactions are not inter-conditional and are expected to close before the end of our fiscal year 2022.

The group expects to disclose consideration details for the proposed transactions upon signing of the acquisition agreements in each market.

The group’s tower portfolios in the two markets of the proposed transactions together comprise around 1,000 towers which form part of the group’s wireless telecommunications infrastructure network.

The transactions and the proposed transactions are the latest strategic divestment of the group’s tower portfolio as it focusses on an asset-light business model and on its core subscriber-facing operations.

The proceeds from the transactions and the proposed transactions will be used to reduce group external debt and to invest in network and sales infrastructure in the respective operating countries.