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Bharti Airtel Close to $3 Billion Deal to Sell African Towers

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India's Bharti Airtel is said to be close to a deal that would see its sell its African tower assets for as much as USD3 billion.

The funds are expected to be used to help bring the company's debt down to more manageable levels.

"Up to $2 billion of the sale proceeds will be used to retire debt, helping improve the company's margins and result in higher profit before tax," an unnamed source told the Economic Times.

The rest would be used for network upgrades.

Paying down the debt could boost pre-tax profits by around USD100 million.

Bharti Airtel would still be left with debts of around USD8.4 billion though.

Four companies, Helios Towers Africa, IHS, American Tower and Eaton Towers are said to have been shortlisted for the deal, which would include the tower assets in most of the 17 African countries that Airtel operates in.

It owns around 15,000 towers in the continent.

Any deal could be game changing for the buyer, giving them a continent wide footprint in a fast growing market. It is therefore expected that bidding could be intense when the tender is formally issued.

Another option is a fragmented sale, with different buyers picking up towers in selected countries.

On the web: Economic Times

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