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By Dipo Olowookere

A leading provider of telecommunications and mobile money service, Airtel Africa Plc, says it has sold its tower assets in Madagascar and Malawi to Helios Towers Plc.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the GSM network provider said the foremost independent telecommunications infrastructure company on the continent is expected to cough out approximately $108 million for the deal.

Airtel Africa operates in 14 African countries and the CEO of the firm, Mr Raghunath Mandava, the sale of the assets is aimed at using what it has to generate more funds for the smooth operations of the organisation.

“With these latest tower transactions, we continue to demonstrate strong execution of our asset monetisation programme.

“Helios Towers has been a partner to our business in some of the OPCOs for many years and we look forward to further expanding this partnership with these new leases as we together seek to improve mobile connectivity and infrastructure across Africa.

“These transactions will also help to improve the mix of our debt and increase its tenor through long term leases, which are largely payable in local currency by our operating entities while reducing foreign currency debt of the group,” he said.

Business Post gathered that the tower portfolios of Airtel Africa in Madagascar and Malawi are 1,229, forming part of the firm’s wireless telecommunications infrastructure network.

The sales, expected to be concluded in the fourth quarter of 2021, are subject to the regulatory approvals of the respective countries, the notice disclosed.

However, Airtel Africa explained that under the terms of the transactions, its subsidiaries will “continue to develop, maintain and operate their equipment on the towers under separate lease arrangements, largely made in local currencies, with [Helios].”

It was added that as part of the deal, Airtel Africa 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 which a further $11 million of consideration is payable.”

Meanwhile, Airtel Africa also said it plans to sell its tower assets (nearly 1,000) in Chad and Gabon to Helios with proceeds to be “used to reduce the group external debt and to invest in network and sales infrastructure in the respective operating countries.” The deal is expected to be finalised before the end of its 2022 fiscal year.

According to Airtel Africa, “The value of the gross assets the subject of the transactions at March 31, 2020, was $93.7 million and the profits before tax for the year to March 31, 2020, attributable to the assets the subject of the transactions are $3.3 million.”

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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