Airtel's African arm has sold Airtel Tanzania's tower portfolio to a joint venture of SBA Communications Corporation (majority stake) and Paradigm Infrastructure Ltd for $175 million.
SBA Communications is an independent owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure, while the UK-based Paradigm Infrastructure is focused on developing, owning and operating shared passive wireless infrastructure in selected growth markets. Airtel's Africa deals in telecommunications and mobile money services across 14 countries in Africa.
Airtel Tanzania's tower portfolio comprises around 1,400 towers, which form part of the group's wireless telecommunications infrastructure network. As per the agreement, the group's subsidiary Airtel Tanzania Plc will continue to develop, maintain and operate its equipment on the towers under a separate lease arrangement with the buyer companies.
The transaction is the latest strategic divestment of Airtel's tower portfolio as it focuses on an asset-light business model and on its core subscriber-facing operations. Of the entire deal amount, $157.5 million will be payable on the first closing date, which will be in the second half of the group's current financial year.
The balance amount is payable in instalments upon the completion of the transfer of any remaining towers to the buyer companies. As per Airtel, it'll invest around $60 million from the proceeds on network and sales infrastructure in Tanzania and for distribution to the Tanzania government. The rest of the amount will be used to reduce debt at the group level.
Amid mounting losses due to dirt-cheap data prices and high competition among telcos in India, Bharti Airtel has reported recorded losses in the past two years. During its recently announced quarterly results for Jan-March quarter, Airtel posted a net profit of Rs 759 crore against a net loss of Rs 5,237 crore in the year-ago quarters.
However, the company's consolidated net loss for FY21 stood at Rs 15,084 crore compared to Rs 32,183 crore in FY20.
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