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VENTURES AFRICA – Indications have emerged that Indi telecommunications service provider, Bharti Airtel may sell off its towers in Nigeria for about $550m in the first quarter of the year to streamline debt.
“The company wants to finish the Nigeria tower sale by March 2014 to be able to sell the other towers in Africa but the timeline of the completion of the sale hinges on the valuation that they are able to get,” a source familiar with the development explained.
Another source told CNBC-TV18 that local tower companies like Helios Tower & IHS are in advanced stages of preparing bids for the Nigerian tower portfolio.
“Both players are also talking to investors to get funding of about $200-250 million for the bid,” the source said.
Airtel is expected to sell these towers to pay off huge debts incurred during the purchase of its African business expansion. As at September last year, the operator’s debt was valued at Rs60,877 crore ($9.7 billion).
As at the end of March 2013, the telecoms company had about 15000 to 20,000 towers in Africa worth an estimated $1.8 billion.
Nigeria, Airtel’s number one revenue-generating African market, is home to about 4,000 Airtel mobile towers.
The West African economy, contributed about 30 percent revenue of Airtel’s Africa business in its 2012 and 2013 fiscal year.