MTN Group told Mobile World Live it is mulling the strategic and financial merits of the sale and leaseback of up to half its tower portfolio in home market South Africa, as part of a broader review of its operations.

An MTN representative said the operator had around 13,000 towers in South Africa, half of which it considered “feasible for a sale”.

The group said it was exploring the divestiture in line with a strategy review designed “to unlock shareholder value” and it was currently working on appointing advisers.

MTN has already completed sale and leasing agreements for most of its mast assets in other large markets, working with American Tower in Ghana and Uganda, and IHS Towers in Nigeria, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire and Zambia.

The South African tower deal would contribute to debt reduction efforts by MTN: the sum stood at ZAR60.6 billion ($4 billion) in Q3.

In its earnings statement, the operator explained it adopted a “prudent” approach to managing liquidity, which was “focused on cash preservation”.

MTN also highlighted its medium-term focus was to reduce its “exposure to US dollar debt and improve the funding mix” through improved cash flows.