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Vodacom Sells Tanzania Phone Towers to Company Backed by Soros

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July 22 (Bloomberg) -- Vodacom Group Ltd., Vodafone Group Plc’s African mobile-phone operator, agreed to sell 1,149 phone towers in Tanzania to an infrastructure company backed by investors including George Soros.

The wireless carrier, South Africa’s largest, will obtain a 24.5 percent stake in the tower company, Helios Towers Tanzania, as part of the deal, according to a statement from Helios today. No financial details were disclosed. Helios Towers Tanzania is a unit of Helios Towers Africa.

Infrastructure disposals can help wireless carriers reduce costs and focus on customer services and marketing. Johannesburg-based Vodacom, seeking to boost earnings as revenue from domestic voice connections falls, will lease back the towers from Helios.

The deal expands Helios’s network to 4,700 towers across the continent and more than doubles its presence in Tanzania. Investors in Helios Towers Africa include billionaire Soros’s Quantum Strategic Partners, Albright Capital Management LLC, RIT Capital Partners Plc and International Finance Corp.

The agreement is valued at about $75 million, the Financial Times reported today, without saying where it got the information.

To contact the reporter on this story: Chris Spillane in Johannesburg at cspillane3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Kenneth Wong at kwong11@bloomberg.net.

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