Bharti sells 8,300 towers in Africa for $1.7 billion, to cut debt

Wednesday, Oct 21, 2015

Bharti Airtel has struck a deal to sell tower assets in seven of the 13 countries it operates in across Africa and the $1.7-billion (Rs 11,000-crore) transaction will help the company pare its troublesome debt in the continent.

The company had entered Africa in 2010 by buying out the assets of Zain Telecom for about $10 billion. It has been struggling to run operations in the region at a time when it also needs cash to service the high debt and invest in new technologies like 4G in India.

Bharti's telecom operations in the 13 African countries have been a major factor behind the company's overall debt of Rs 68,134 crore at the end of the quarter ending June this year. The company has around 14,000 mobile towers in Africa and has decided to exit the tower business as part of measures to cut down debt and make the business viable.

"As on date, we have completed the sale transactions in seven countries for approximately 8,300 towers representing close to 60% of the total tower base," Bharti Airtel said. "The total value of the proceeds from all the concluded transactions in these seven countries is over $1.7 billion and is being utilized for reducing the debt of the company," the company added.