Telkom shareholders to confirm tower unit sale in May

Telkom shareholders to confirm tower unit sale in May

Shareholders in South African service provider Telkom will soon vote on a plan to sell the group’s towers and masts to a consortium led by private equity firm Actis.

Last month we reported that Telkom South Africa had confirmed the sale of its tower unit Swiftnet for ZAR 6.75 billion (US$355 million) to infrastructure-focused private equity firm Actis, a move intended to pay down debts and balance its books. 

However, this doesn’t appear to be an entirely done deal yet. Local news service TechCentral says Telkom has now distributed a circular related to the disposal of the assets to its shareholders. The circular includes a notice convening a general meeting on 24 May at which shareholders will be asked to decide on the proposed sale.

If this decision goes as expected, Telkom will join rivals MTN South Africa and Cell C in selling tower infrastructure in order to focus on core business operations, leaving only Vodacom among the major mobile operators still owning its towers.

Swiftnet owns about 4,000 high sites around South Africa. The Actis-led consortium will fund the purchase of Swiftnet from both equity and third-party debt. Apart from shareholders, the acquisition must still get the nod from regulators.

Of course, as with many such deals, Telkom can now lease towers without actually having to maintain them. Telkom Group CEO Serame Taukobong is quoted as saying: “Beyond the financial implications, this transaction ensures seamless continuity for our related businesses, particularly Telkom Consumer and Openserve, by guaranteeing continued access to Swiftnet’s infrastructure under mutually beneficial terms.”

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