DUBAI Jan 23 India's Bharti Airtel
plans to sell most of its transmitter towers in Africa, in a
process that could raise up to $2 billion for the country's top
telecom operator and help reduce its debt burden, banking
Bharti, which entered Africa with the $9 billion acquisition
of Zain's operations on the continent in 2010, has
already launched a sale process to offload its towers in
Nigeria, two sources familiar with the process said.
"While other telecom operators have sought to offload towers
in Africa due to the inherent difficulty in operating them,
Bharti has the added reason of reducing their debt burden, most
of which was taken up for the Zain acquisition," one of the
banking sources said.
"Tower sale deals are always difficult to execute. This is
an ongoing process and they would have done a great job if they
can sell most of it," the source said.
Indian media this week carried reports referring to Bharti's
"As a company policy, we do not comment on market
speculation," a Bharti spokesman said.
The company had net debt of 638.4 billion Indian rupees
($10.32 billion) as of March 31, 2013.