MTN hires Citi, Standard Bank for South African towers deal

MTN Group Ltd appointed Citigroup Inc and Standard Bank Group Ltd to advise on a sale and lease back of some of the carrier’s South African telecom towers, according to people familiar with the matter.

Africa’s largest mobile-phone company by sales is looking to raise between R5 billion ($333 million) and R10 billion from the deal, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the process is ongoing.

The Johannesburg-based firm will seek to attract interest from specialist tower companies operating on the continent, they said.

MTN hasn’t made a final decision about the scope or timing of the sale, the people said. The shares pared early gains to trade 0.7% higher as of 3:54 p.m. in Johannesburg, and are down 23% over the 12-month period.

MTN, Citi and Standard Bank declined to comment.

The sale of part of MTN’s 13,000-strong South African tower portfolio would go toward the company’s plans to raise R25 billion from asset disposals over the next three-to-five years.

The carrier exited stakes in tower assets in Ghana and Uganda as part of an earlier sales drive, and last year offloaded a minority interest in e-commerce group Jumia Technologies AG.

Tower companies such as IHS Holding Ltd and American Tower Corp have been expanding in Africa to tap rising demand for broadband and take up of smartphones.

South Africa is in the process of rolling out 5G services and boosting rural mobile coverage, and is planning to auction new high-speed internet spectrum in March.

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MTN hires Citi, Standard Bank for South African towers deal