Operator MTN Nigeria has confirmed that American Tower Corporation will take over its Nigerian tower operations from IHS Towers in 2025.
In a stock filing, MTN said it was renegotiating its tower contracts in Nigeria, with the lease of approximately 2,500 of its network sites, for which IHS had provided services that expire in 2024 and 2025.
The company said: “In line with MTN Nigeria’s procurement policy, which seeks to ensure transparent and competitive bidding process, the Company called for tender for these tower contracts.
“Following a review of the bids received for tower services for the affected sites, ATC Nigeria Wireless Infrastructure Solutions Limited was selected has the preferred tower company for those sites based on its superior bid submission.”
MTN added: “Additionally, this will further diversify our site portfolio and align with our proactive initiative to renegotiate tower agreement, focusing on ensuring terms that will help cushion the business form the volatility in our trading environment.”
In 2014, MTN and IHS struck an agreement to transfer the operations of more than 9,000 Nigerian towers to IHS. In its recent statement, MTN noted that it opted to select American Tower over IHS following the expiry of the existing deal following a review of bids received in a tender to operate the tower assets.
According to Bloomberg, however, MTN is currently in a shareholder dispute with IHS, in which it holds 26%, over governance issues, though there appears to have been no direct link betwen that issue and the change of tower company made by MTN in its statement.
That said, according to the techcabal website, one year after it its June 2022 announcement of the acquisition of 5701 telecom towers from MTN Group and several days after an IHS annual general meeting, MTN Group released a statement complaining that it was unable to sell its non-voting shares and wanted its stake in the company to be reflected in its voting power. MTN Group holds 26% of IHS Towers but only controls 20% of the voting share.
Will this new agreement cause problems for IHS? Nigeria is a big market for the company in a very competitive African market, so at the very least this will be a major inconvenience.