Airtel nixes tower-sale pact in Tanzania, Tchad

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018 Published on June 17, 2015


Agreements with Helios in two African countries lapse

Bharti Airtel has said that its agreement with Helios Towers Africa for tower assets sale in Tanzania and Tchad stands terminated.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the company said that the agreements for sale of tower assets in Tanzania and Tchad between the respective subsidiaries of Airtel and Helios Towers Africa (HTA) have lapsed and, therefore, stands terminated.

The company on July 9 last year announced that it would divest 3,100 telecom tower assets to Helios Towers Africa in four countries — Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Tchad and Tanzania.

However, the term sheet expired in Tanzania and Tchad and both the companies mutually decided to terminate the deal. But, the deals for Democratic Republic of Congo and Republic of Congo remain as it is, said sources from the company.

“Both the companies have decided not to go ahead with the deal in two countries (Tanzania and Tchad). It was a miniscule number of towers in both the countries and total could have been around 700-800 towers,” said a source from the company.

According to the agreement last year, Airtel was to divest around 3,100 towers across its African operations, which would expand HTA’s coverage in Africa to over 7,800 owned towers.

The deal was signed to help Airtel de-leverage through debt reduction and reduced ongoing capital expenditure, followed by Airtel’s and HTA’s strategies to drive cost efficiencies throughout the industry like promotion of passive infrastructure and to mitigate against the proliferation of towers.

In return, Airtel would have full access to the towers from HTA under a long-term lease contract and the agreement also envisaged that tower operations-related personnel will be transferred from Airtel to HTA.

HTA being solely focused on providing telecom infrastructure solutions, was supposed to help its customers achieve their goals of reducing operating cost, improving uptime, preserving capital, focusing on their core business, and mitigating the proliferation of towers through infrastructure sharing, as they expand network coverage and capacity to meet demand and improve quality of service.

However, the agreement was subject to statutory and regulatory approvals in the respective countries.

Shares of Bharti Airtel closed at ₹421.10 on the BSE on Wednesday, up 1.69 per cent from the previous close.

Published on June 17, 2015
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