Bharti Airtel is set to close the sale of its African tower business in the next seven days, according to an Economic Times report.
Four buyers have been shortlisted: Helios Towers Africa, IHS Towers, American Tower and Eaton Towers, according to sources.
The same four names featured in a recent Financial Times report. Only Eaton Towers has confirmed its involvement. Bharti Airtel did not comment.
The latest report said Bharti could draw as much as $3 billion from the sale although this figure differs from the earlier report which places a more conservative figure of up to $2 billion.
The operator wants to put two-thirds of the proceeds towards reduction of its $10.4 billion debt, with the balance going towards capital expenditure.
Its tower business is present in 17 African countries and has a network of close to 15,000 towers.
Bharti Airtel has been trying to sell the tower portfolio for about one year. The cost of the infrastructure has been weighing on the company’s results. The African unit has yet to make a profit.
A source said because the tower portfolio is spread across so many African countries with different regulations it makes it “extremely difficult” to sell the entire stake to one company.
“Getting all interested parties on board is a complex task which has taken the company a long time,” said the source, indicating Bharti has spent over six months putting the curent deal together.