10 February 2014

Nigeria: MTN Looks for Buyers for Towers Portfolio

MTN Group has approached some African tower companies about the possible sale of its towers portfolio in Nigeria, TMT Finance reported, citing sources. MTN is reportedly focused on conducting a quick process, having already sent marketing materials to prospective buyers. According to the news portal, Citi is thought to be advising MTN on the disposal.

MTN Nigeria is estimated to own around 8,000 sites. It is one of the most experienced at divesting towers, having already successfully executed processes in Rwanda, Zambia, Ghana, Uganda, Cote d'Ivoire and Cameroon.

Rival Airtel is currently engaged with buyers for its 5,000 towers in Nigeria, including Helios Towers Nigeria (HTN) and IHS, while Etisalat Nigeria has hired Standard Bank to run its own process.

Of the three, either Airtel or MTN is more likely to be ahead in terms of timeframe, sources said. While a first-mover advantage is generally seen to be beneficial when selling towers, MTN boasts the largest portfolio in Nigeria, and the sheer size of the asset is likely to appeal to buyers.

IHS and HTN are already present in Nigeria, but sources said such a large market would be able to sustain around four tower companies. IHS, HTN and Helios Towers Africa (HTA) are all thought to be currently discussing new financing rounds and investment, with the United States European and Asian private equity firms and sovereign wealth funds increasingly keen to tap into the sector.

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