Airtel Africa struck deals with Helios Towers for the sale of its towers in Madagascar and Malawi for a combined $108 million, alongside agreeing exclusive negotiations over similar assets in two other markets.

In a statement, the operator group noted the two sealed deals were standalone transactions and are expected to close in or around Q4, subject to regulatory approval. As is common in tower agreements, the seller agreed to lease back access to the sites.

The two contracts cover a combined 1,299 towers, but also include an obligation for Airtel Africa to build a further 195 sites across the two countries within three years of completion at a cost to Helios Towers of a further $11 million.

Cash raised will be used by the operator to reduce debt, and invest in network and sales infrastructure in the respective markets.

In addition to the two contracts in place, the parties also signed an exclusive “memorandum of understanding” regarding the potential sale of around 1,000 tower assets in Chad and Gabon, with similar terms to the two other deals.

Should these be agreed, the transactions are expected to close before the end of its 2022 fiscal year (end-March 2022).

In November 2020, Bloomberg reported comments from Airtel Africa CEO Raghunath Mandava noting it was mulling the sale of 4,500 towers across Chad, Gabon, Madagascar, Malawi and Tanzania to raise money to cut debt.

The move is the latest attempt by the operator to cash in on its assets having announced the sale of a $200 million stake in its mobile money arm last week.