In an attempt to turn around its operations in the African region, Bharti Airtel Limited, a global telecommunications services provider with operations in 20 countries across Asia and Africa [through its subsidiary company Bharti Airtel International (Netherlands) BV (“Airtel”)] and Helios Towers Africa (“HTA”), a telecoms towers company in Africa, have signed an agreement for the divestment of over 3,100 telecoms towers from Airtel to HTA.
As part of the agreement, Airtel is divesting approximately 3,100 towers to HTA located in four countries across its African region, which will expand HTA’s tower coverage in Africa to over 7,800 owned towers. This deal will help Airtel deleverage through debt reduction and reduced ongoing capital expenditure. Airtel will continue to have full access to the towers from HTA under a long term lease contract.
The agreements while allowing Airtel to focus on its core business and customers, would also enable it to deleverage through debt reduction, and will significantly reduce its ongoing capital expenditure on passive infrastructure.
HTA being solely focused on providing telecoms infrastructure solutions, helps its customers to 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.
The agreement is subject to statutory and regulatory approvals in the respective countries. Commenting on the development, Manoj Kohli, Chairman, Bharti Airtel International Netherlands BV (BAIN), said, “The agreement is another milestone in Airtel’s growth journey in Africa. Airtel pioneered the concept of a separate tower entity to promote infrastructure sharing in India and this agreement is a continuation of that philosophy. It is an important step towards the consolidation of tower assets across Africa that will drive industry-wide cost efficiencies through infrastructure sharing. The agreement will further help in accelerating the growth of telecom services in the Continent and at the same time benefit the environment by avoiding duplication of infrastructure.”
Chuck Green, Chief Executive Officer of HTA, added, “HTA is proud to be chosen by Airtel as its partner for the ownership and management of its existing infrastructure. This is a ground-breaking move for HTA and Airtel’s decision is a significant endorsement of HTA’s reputation, management team and operating track record.”