Bharti Gets $1.3 Billion From Sale of African Phone Towers

Bharti Airtel Ltd. completed the sale of mobile-phone towers in five African countries for more than $1.3 billion, helping it reduce its debt.

Agreements to sell towers in two other African nations have lapsed, and transactions in six other countries on the continent are progressing, the New Delhi-based company said in a statement to the stock exchange. Bharti, which has operations in 17 nations in Africa, didn’t specify which deals had been completed.

India’s largest mobile-phone operator had announced agreements to sell tower assets in 13 African countries to help it cut costs. Bharti’s business on the continent has struggled due to a plunge in oil and commodity prices and regulatory hurdles.

Bharti’s interest costs surged 38 percent to 50.1 billion rupees ($788 million) in the 12 months ended March 31, the biggest such increase in three years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Shares of Bharti rose 0.4 percent to 426.30 rupees as of 10:12 a.m. in Mumbai trading. The stock has gained 21 percent this year while the S&P BSE Sensex has added 1.9 percent.

American Tower Corp. closed its acquisition of about 4,700 towers in Nigeria from Bharti, the Boston-based company said in a Businesswire release Wednesday. The phone towers operator had in November agreed to pay Bharti $1.05 billion for the deal.

Bharti’s agreements with Helios Towers Africa for the sale of towers in Tanzania and Chad had lapsed, the Indian company said last month.