Airtel’s towers sale deal in Chad and Tanzania terminated

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

In July last year, Airtel had announced a deal to sell 3,100 telecoms towers in the four countries to Helios Towers Africa for an undisclosed sum. Photo: Reuters
New Delhi: The deal for the sale of Bharti Airtel’s towers in Chad and Tanzania to Helios Towers Africa has been terminated. The termination, however, does not extend to the sale of towers in the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo.

In July last year, Airtel had announced a deal to sell 3,100 telecoms towers in the four countries to Helios Towers Africa for an undisclosed sum. The towers would have taken Helios’s total to 7,800 and significantly helped cut Airtel’s debt and capital expenditure in the region. The deal with Helios was the first of three such deals across Africa for the Indian telecom service provider that has been struggling with its African venture for five years now.

“The term sheet for the deal has lapsed and, therefore, the agreement stands terminated for these two countries,” a Bharti spokesperson said.

“With reference to the press release dated 9 July 2014 regarding ‘Airtel divests telecoms tower assets to Helios Towers Africa’, Bharti Airtel Ltd has now informed BSE that the agreements for sale of tower assets in Tanzania and Chad between the respective subsidiaries of Bharti Airtel Ltd and Helios Towers Africa have lapsed and therefore stand terminated,” Bharti said in a statement.

A day after the July 2014 announcement, Helios Towers Africa announced that it had secured equity financing of $630 million from new and existing investors. The pan-African mobile infrastructure firm, founded by George Soros-backed Helios Investment Partners, said it had completed negotiations on new and extended debt facilities of over $350 million with international and local lenders.

After the deal with Helios, Bharti announced a deal to sell 3,500 towers to Eaton, in six African countries, and another 4,800 towers to American Tower Company, in Nigeria. The deals were part of Bharti’s plan to reduce capex and debt by selling a total of 15,000 towers across the 17 African countries that the company operates in. Analysts estimate that all three tower sale-and-lease-back deals could have raised as much as $1.5 billion.

Source: Livemint 18 June 2015