In another major cellular tower deal in Africa, Eaton Towers has acquired 3 500 base stations in six countries belonging to Indian-headquartered mobile network operator Airtel.
In terms of the deal, Airtel will have a 10-year lease contract on the towers. Eaton already owns and operates towers in Ghana, Uganda and South Africa. The Airtel deal expands this to seven countries and about 5 000 towers.
Eaton is acquiring the passive infrastructure on the towers and not Airtel’s active radio equipment. Curiously, the company is not saying which the six markets are where it’s bought the towers. “I’m afraid we aren’t able to release the per market information at this point,” a spokesman said in response to a query from TechCentral. It’s also not disclosing the value of the deal.
“We are the pioneers and strong proponents of telecoms infrastructure sharing, which results in industry-wide cost efficiencies,” said Manoj Kohli, chairman of Bharti Airtel International Netherlands, Airtel’s selling entity, in a statement. “The agreement with Eaton Towers is an extension of this philosophy and will lead to far superior utilisation of passive infrastructure and help drive the proliferation of affordable mobile services across Africa.”
Kohli said the agreements will allow Airtel to focus on its core business and customers and allow it to “deleverage through debt reduction”. It will also significantly reduce its ongoing capital expenditure on passive infrastructure.
The MTN deal is a big coup for IHS, which has secured a number of other tower sale agreements with MTN. The Nigerian acquisition nearly doubles the number of towers that IHS manages in Africa and brings the number of such transactions it has concluded to nine. — © 2014 NewsCentral Media