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BW Businessworld

American Tower To Pay $1.1 Bn For Bharti Nigeria Phone Masts

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Bharti Airtel Ltd will sell more than 4,800 mobile phone masts in Nigeria to American Tower Corp for $1.05 billion, as part of its plan to cut costs and pare debt.
 
Mobile operators in Africa such as Bharti Airtel have been selling masts to specialist tower firms and leasing them back to cut maintenance costs on a continent with poor access to electricity and shoddy roads.
 
Bharti Airtel has agreed to be the anchor tenant on the masts it is selling to American Tower initially for 10 years, the companies said in a joint statement on Monday.
 
American Tower said in a separate regulatory filing it expected the deal value to be about $1.05 billion, subject to adjustments.
 
The companies expect to close the deal during the first half of 2015, they said.
 
Bharti Airtel, India's top telecommunications company, entered Africa in 2010 by acquiring loss-making telecoms operations for $9 billion, funded by debt. The Indian company has yet to turn a profit in Africa because the high cost of running the operations eat into margins.
 
Nigeria is Bharti Airtel's biggest market in Africa.
 
The latest deal comes after an agreement to sell more than 3,500 mobile phone masts in six African nations to Eaton Towers, a transaction sources said was worth up to $800 million. In July, Bharti Airtel agreed to sell about 3,100 masts in four African countries to Helios Towers Africa.
 
(Reuters)