x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Etisalat linked to $600 million sale of African mobile phone towers

Etisalat, the region's biggest telecom provider by market value, is looking to sell the mobile phone towers it owns in Africa, a process that could raise up to $600 million, sources say.

DUBAI // Etisalat is looking to sell the mobile phone towers it owns in Africa, a process that could raise up to $600 million, sources said today.

Etisalat has hired Standard Chartered to give advice on the process, one person close to the matter said. Another person familiar with the matter said that Etisalat is planning to sell about 4,000 to 5,000 towers and expects to generate around $500 million to $600 million. Etisalat declined to comment.

Sale of mobile towers comes amid a wider trend of mobile-tower sharing that analysts expect to kick off in the Middle East. Financial services firm KPMG estimates total industry savings in terms of capital expenditure resulting from tower sharing in the Middle East and Africa could amount to as much as $8 billion.

The sale is expected to be country by country, with Tanzania being the first.

"The process of selling towers in Tanzania is expected by the end of the first quarter," one person familiar with the matter said.

"Etisalat realised that the matter cannot be oversimplified. It operates in eight countries [in Africa], eight regulators, and it has to deal with minority shareholders in these countries," another person close to the sale said.

*Shereen El Gazzar, Dow Jones Newswires, Asa Fitch in Dubai contributed.