Africa Marketwatch, May 2014

MTN Nigeria tower sale process well under way

MTN kicked off a process to sell the largest tower network in Nigeria, an estimated 9-10,000 towers, earlier in 2014. The portfolio unquestionably represents the most valuable single country package of African tower assets brought to market to date, and could command a valuation above US$1bn, depending on MTN’s preferred leaseback rate.

IHS raises a further US$130mn from existing investors

Less than two months after announcing a US$490mn capital raise, IHS has secured a further US$130mn from existing investors, pushing total capital raised beyond US$1.6mn.

IHS are likely to bid aggressively for several of the portfolios of towers currently for sale in Africa, giving particular priority to their native market Nigeria, where MTN, Airtel and Etisalat have a total of around 18,000 towers for sale – which coincidentally might attract an aggregate valuation near to the US$1.6mn total capital raised to date by IHS, depending on the usual variables (deal structure, lease back rate, contract duration etc).

Airtel now #2 in Nigeria

Data released by the NCC in February 2014 shows that Airtel Nigeria had a 26.2mn subscribers, followed by Glo with 24.5mn and Etisalat with 18.1mn. MTN remain market leaders with 57.2mn subscribers. New Airtel Africa CEO Christan de Faria called the statistics “a clear indication of the trust that a growing sector of the population have started to have in us…Nigeria continues to be a very competitive telecoms market and our intention is to ensure that we continue to innovate and make life easier for our customers.”

Sonatel and MobiNil tower sales continue to progress

According to TMT Finance, a shortlist of three bidders has reportedly been drawn up for MobiNil’s 2,500-3,000 Egyptian towers, with the deal potentially closing before the publication of the Summer edition of the TowerXchange Journal – we’ll cover it in more detail at that time.

Meanwhile, another MNO in which Orange owns a stake, Sonatel, is progressing the sale of 3,000 towers across Senegal, Mali, Guinea Bissau and Guinea Conakry.

IHS closes deal to acquire MTN towers in Rwanda and Zambia

First reported in issue 7 of TowerXchange, IHS’s latest deal with MTN has now been completed with slightly modified tower counts, as is often the case. IHS has acquired and will manage a total of 1,269 towers, broken down as 550 in Rwanda and 719 in Zambia, representing 100% of MTNs towers in the two countries. The deal also includes a build-to-suit programme.

Fourth MNO license for Zambia

ITWeb Africa quote Zambian Minister of Communications and Transport, Yamfwa Mukanga suggesting the previously postponed issue of a fourth mobile license would follow after the implementation of the digital migration project, saying ““The government is concerned with the high cost of communication. So the fourth mobile operator will come with many advantages including reduced cost of making phone calls and other services.” Vodacom continue to be rumoured to be interested in Zambia. Airtel are current market leaders, followed by Zamtel and MTN. According to BMI data reported in TowerXchange, Zambia’s mobile penetration was 71.1% at the end of 2012 and is forecast to reach 91.2% by 2017. ARPU is around the US$5 mark.

MNO consolidation continues as Airtel again acquires Warid assets

Having acquired Warid’s business in Uganda and Bangladesh, Bharti has repeated the feat by acquiring Warid’s subsidiary in Congo Brazzaville. The transaction is thought to be valued at US$70-80mn. The deal adds Warid’s 1mn customers to Airtel’s market leading 1.6mn customers, vaulting the Indian telco above MTN as the market leader in Congo Brazzaville.

“This acquisition is in line with our stated strategy of strengthening our market position through in-country acquisitions, as and when suitable opportunities come along. We are at an advance stage of successfully integrating Warid’s Uganda operations with that of Airtel and look forward to a similarly swift transition in Congo Brazzaville as well. As already demonstrated in Uganda, the merger will bring more value for the customers in the form of affordable data and roaming tariffs, innovative products, Airtel Money, world-class networks and customer care,” said Manoj Kohli, CEO (International) of Bharti Airtel.

Smart East Africa launches

Smart East Africa, a subsidiary of the Aga Khan Fund for Development, is launching operations in Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.

At the Kampala launch, Group CEO Abdellatif Bouziani called attention to his firms experience in Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and the AGA Khan Development Network’s 100 years experience of investment in East Africa, as evidence of their experience.

Helios Towers Africa achieves OSHAS 18001 compliance

Congratulations to HTA on completing their clean sweep of OSHAS 18001 certification in each of their existing markets, Ghana, Tanzania and the DRC.

All HTA operations have earned the right to display the coveted OSHAS 18001 certification mark to demonstrate their conformance to the standard.

OHSAS 18001 was first introduced in 1999 and requires organisations to assess their risk and implement an effective occupational health and safety management system to promote a safe and healthy working environment. Certified organisations are committed to continuous improvement and are assessed annually to ensure progress is being maintained.

“We are particularly pleased to have achieved the OSHAS 18001 certification in all of our existing markets as it underlines our commitment to our customers and our focus on quality of service. We are the first and only OSHAS 18001 certified company in each of our markets,” said Chuck Green, CEO of Helios Towers Africa.

New funding for Helios Towers Africa in the pipeline

TMT Finance reports that Providence Equity Partners has agreed on terms for an investment of “several hundred million US$” into Helios Towers Africa, although the investment has not yet been confirmed by either party.

Helios Towers Tanzania launches IBS

HTA’s Tanzanian opco Helios Towers Tanzania (HTT) launched their In-Building Solutions strategy at an event at the Kilimanjara Regency Hotel in Dar es Salaam recently.

“As the sector matures there is a clear mandate to improve the breadth and quality of these services; namely voice and data services. Tanzania has seen a wide proliferation of next generation technologies like 3G and 4G services,” said Norman Moyo, CEO of HTT. HTT’s IBS are expected to improve QoS in large and tall buildings as well as along roads.

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