MTN to sell its towers in South Africa

MTN is set to complete the sale and leaseback of South African towers by the end of next month, while a separation of both the fintech and fiber units is also underway as the wireless carrier strives to pay down debt.

The tower deal could generate as much as R11 billion, according to analysis by Bloomberg Intelligence. The fintech move is due to be finalized by March and fiber over the next two years, the Johannesburg-based firm said in a statement on Thursday.

Africa’s biggest mobile-phone company is more than two years into a transformational breakup project, shedding assets and exiting markets to focus on core businesses around the continent.

A key aspect is to cease operations in the Middle East, and MTN has abandoned its Syria operation as regulatory demands prevented a more orthodox exit, the group said.

The shares rose 2.2% as of 9:27 a.m. in Johannesburg. The stock has gained almost 96% this year, the best performer on the FTSE/JSE Africa Top40 Index.

MTN confirmed it is not going to resubmit a bid for a new license in Ethiopia, which is opening up the market to international operators for the first time.

Bloomberg News reported the decision earlier this month. A previous offer by the carrier and various partners was rejected by the government.

Sales grew by 2.1% in the six months through June, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose by 6.6%. The group outperformed in its home market of South Africa, where revenue gained 12%.

The carrier cut debt to R36.7 billion from about R43.3 billion. MTN has repatriated 7 billion rand this year from Nigeria, where it has historically been hard to extract cash due to a lack of foreign exchange.

Now read: MTN grows subscribers and revenue in South Africa

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MTN to sell its towers in South Africa