Vodacom is selling more than a thousand of its base stations in Tanzania to tower operator Helios in a deal worth about US$75m, according to a UK media report.
This is the first time that Vodacom has sold tower infrastructure to a third party, the Financial Times newspaper reported at the weekend. Its South African-headquartered rival, MTN, has already sold towers in a number of markets in Africa, including Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon, and has said it is considering the possibility of doing the same in South Africa.
Operators typically sell their tower assets in markets where pricing pressures have put average revenues per user under pressure. They outsource their towers in an effort to ease financial pressures. Tower companies, in turn, usually buy the infrastructure in the hope of leasing capacity on the base stations to other companies — either existing market players or new entrants.
According to the FT, Vodacom will transfer 1 149 towers to Helios Towers Tanzania and take a 24,5% stake in company. Vodacom will lease facilities from Helios. Active components of the towers — the radio communications equipment — do not form part of the sale.
With the Vodacom towers, Helios now owns and manages nearly 5 000 base stations in Tanzania, Ghana and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
According to the FT, the transaction with Vodacom will more than double Helios Towers’ presence in Tanzania. It’s already concluded a deal with Millicom in the East African market.