Telkom in talks to sell its towers to Actis

Private equity firm Actis is in talks to buy Swiftnet, the mast and tower business owned by Telkom, according to people familiar with the matter.

The deal would also include a smaller, local partner, according to the people who declined to be identified because they’re not authorised to speak on the matter. Swiftnet is valued at as much as R6.3-billion, Telkom said previously.

Actis and Telkom declined to comment on the matter.

Telkom started a competitive disposal process for Swiftnet in November, when it said it was in exclusive talks with a preferred bidder that comprised a group of equity investors “including a black economic empowerment partner, led and managed by a reputable private equity firm”. There’s no guarantee the talks will conclude successfully.

Africa has a fast growing, youthful and increasingly tech-savvy population, and firms have been buying into digital infrastructure assets to tap rising demand for broadband as smartphones become more widespread. Actis has been growing its digital infrastructure portfolio in South Africa, buying fibre company Octotel in 2020.

New unit

Meanwhile, mobile companies have increasingly sought to spin off their towers to focus on their core business, with Vodacom saying in 2022 it plans to separate its towers portfolio into a new unit.

Read: Cell towers in space: inside the race to connect planet Earth

In 2022, MTN Group concluded a sale and lease-back deal with IHS Holding for more than 5 700 of its tower sites in South Africa.  — (c) 2024 Bloomberg LP

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