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Airtel Zambia divests 949 towers to IHS

Bharti Airtel can continued its ongoing process of divesting its tower infrastructure by selling 949 telecoms towers to IHS Holding, which it will now lease back.

The leaseback agreement is long-term and renewable, and similar to deals completed with IHS in Zambia and Rwanda in December and January, which saw the sale of 1,100 towers for a reported US$200 million and leased back for 10 years. In July the company said it had dispensed with tower assets in five African countries, raising US$1.3 billion.

Airtel says the divesting allows the operator to cut costs, while IHS continues its expansion across Africa. The value of the agreement has not been disclosed.

“The initiative in Zambia will help us deliver a reliable high quality network run by passive infrastructure experts, whilst reducing our capex requirements and operating costs,” said Christian de Faria, Bharti Airtel's Africa chief executive officer (CEO).

Airtel said the deal allows it to focus “on its core business and customers, enables it to deleverage through debt reduction and will significantly reduce its ongoing capital expenditure on passive infrastructure”.

IHS Group CEO Issam Darwish said his company had been working with Airtel for a number of years and was “delighted” to be able to continue expanding its business in East Africa.

“Our partnership is designed to further promote network sharing, and deliver higher quality and reliable mobile services,” he said.

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