Airtel Africa plans to sell about 4,500 telecommunication towers in five countries including Tanzania and Madagascar to help reduce USD 3.5 billion of debt and prepare for bond repayments, Bloomberg reported. The operator is also disposing of mobile masts in Gabon, Malawi and Chad, CEO Raghunath Mandava told Bloomberg in an interview. Mandava said Airtel is constantly seeking to bring down debt and prefers to do so even faster with the tower deals.
The operator plans to lease back the towers from the buyers, Mandava said. Many of Airtel Africa’s fourteen markets border each other, making it easier to roll out fibre even during the Covid-19 pandemic, the CEO said. The company has added 9,000 kilometres (5,592 miles) of cable this year, bringing the total to 47,000 kilometres.
Airtel has a repayment of EUR 750 million due in May, and an instalment of USD 505 million is due in March 2023, according to its annual report.
The company used the proceeds of the dual initial public offering to help cut borrowings to USD 3.5 billion from about USD 7.7 billion, the CEO said. The outstanding balance includes USD 1.8 billion of bonds that have cross-default clauses with Bharti Airtel, still its biggest shareholder.
Airtel Africa’s Revenue growth in constant currency was 16.4% in H1 and 19.6% in Q2 2020.
- The customer base grew by 12.0% to 116.4 million
- Revenue on a reported basis increased by 10.7% to $1,815m, with Q2 revenue growth of 14.3%
- Revenue growth in constant currency was 16.4% in H1, and 19.6% in Q2. Growth was recorded across all regions:
Nigeria up 20.2%, East Africa up 21.9% and Francophone Africa up 4.4%, and services, with voice revenue up by 7.0%, data by 33.4% and mobile money by 30.4%
- Underlying EBITDA increased 12.8% to $812m while constant currency underlying EBITDA growth was 19.3%