The prospect of Bharti Airtel exiting Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania and also monetising more tower assets in five non-profitable markets would help the New Dheli-headquartered telco reduce leverage and boost margins in Africa, analysts say.
Chairman of Sunil Mittal recently told the Economic Times (ET) of India that the company is in active discussions to explore a mix of an intra-country sale, a purchase or a merger.
“Such asset sales could help Bharti reduce leverage further and potentially help expand margins,” said brokerage Goldman Sachs, adding that “the three countries where Bharti is looking for exits/M&A options have margins significantly lower vs the current Africa average,” he said.
Separately, analysts told ET if Airtel’s stated interest in buying 9mobile (formerly, Etisalat Nigeria) – the fourthlargest mobile carrier in Nigeria – translates in a deal, it would become the largest telco by subscribers in a market that is Bharti’s largest in Africa and generates 30% of its revenues in the continent.
“We take no view on a potential transaction, but a simple sum of the respective market shares of Bharti and 9mobile would suggest a No 1operator in Nigeria by subscribers, slightly ahead of present market leader MTN,” Goldman Sachs told the paper. Mittal had also told ET in a recent interview that Airtel is keen on erstwhile Etisalat Nigeria, which is now called 9mobile, and is up for sale.
Bharti is the third-largest telco in Nigeria with a 25% subscriber market share, while fourth largest, 9mobile has 12%.
If Airtel were to acquire 9mobile, its customer market share at 37% would be a tad higher than MTN’s 36%.
According to analysts, although the Africa operation has historically been a drag on Bharti Airtel, over the past 3-4 years, the Sunil Mittal-led telco has divested US$3.3 billion worth of assets, “which has helped reduce Africa debt levels by as much as 40%”.
In fact, a combination of debt reduction and improving Ebitda margins, they said, helped Airtel’s Africa business turn net profit positive in the first quarter of FY18. In September quarter, the telco reported a profit of $48 million in Africa compared with a loss of US$91 million a year ago, helped by growth in data customers and consumption, and stringent cost controls.
Govt to merge six financial agencies to form mega bank
According to the plan, the new agency will become a one-stop shop for loans from the Government ranging
Win for MCAs in fight for fat pay
They claim the salary capping has negatively affected the effective functioning of the 47 County Assemblies and County Governments
Align Kenya’s political system with global standards
There is need to ensure that our system is in line with international best practice especially as they relate to...
Kitui County embroiled in models ‘sex scandal’
At least 16 models have dismissed the crowning of four winners at a beauty pageant held last month
Kenya not yet fully a free democracy, new report says
While a full report on the country's performance is not yet available online, a summary of the report notes that...
Family of five perishes in Juja inferno
Police said a woman, three children - all aged below 10 years, and a man were found early Tuesday morning
Americans urged to support conservation
Conservation of nature in many countries in Africa contributes significantly to sustainable rural community livelihoods
It’s business as usual, Mike Sonko says
He dismissed reports that Igathe called it quits last Friday following disagreements arising from implementation of key projects and award...
Police mum on theft of State House furniture
Nakuru OCPD Samuel Obara told the press that only police headquarters in Nairobi or State House spokesman Manoah Esipisu can...
Uncertain future for 100 police officers recalled from NTSA
The Director of Personnel at Vigilance House, the Kenya Police Service nerve centre, Boniface Maingi asked the commanders to send...