Airtel’s Tanzania tower deal ‘worth $200m’, says Moody's

24 March 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray

Credit rating agency Moody’s is estimating that this week’s sale of 1,350 towers in Tanzania by Bharti Airtel is worth $200 million.

Indian owned Bharti Airtel agreed to sell its base station towers to American Tower, but did not put a price on the deal. Airtel will be the anchor tenant for the towers, and the deal may be extended by another 200 towers, said the operator.

The sale, which should be completed by the end of June, marks American Tower’s entry to Tanzania. American Tower’s Hal Hess, president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, said: “With a young, growing population, tremendous growth potential and a complementary location relative to our existing African operations, we view Tanzania as a highly attractive adjacent market opportunity.”.

Before the Tanzania deal American Tower had infrastructure in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda. It bought 4,800 towers in Nigeria from Bharti Airtel in 2014.

Though the partners to the deal in Tanzania did not disclose terms, Moody’s estimated the sale price at $150,000 per tower. This “is line with our original estimates in March 2015 for Bharti's African tower sales transactions”, said the agency. This would put proceeds at “around $200 million”, it said in a report.

Reports suggest that Airtel has raised a total of $2 billion from all its African tower sales so far.

Christian de Faria, the CEO of Airtel Africa, said: “The proposed transaction is a continuation of our stated philosophy of divesting passive infrastructure assets and promoting sharing of towers to enhance operational efficiency that will further the overall growth of telecom services. Airtel remains committed to Tanzania and will continue to invest in its operations and serve customers with world-class services.”