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American Tower buys Eaton, acquires JV stakes from MTN

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American Tower, which owns and manages about 177,000 mobile towers in multiple markets around the world, has strengthened its portfolio in Africa with the completion of its Eaton Towers acquisition and a new deal to take control of joint venture assets that had been co-owned with network operator MTN.

The US$1.85 billion deal to acquire Eaton Towers, which was first announced in May 2019, adds 5,700 sites in five markets (Ghana, Uganda, Kenya, Burkina Faso and Niger) to its African portfolio. The deal strengthens American Tower's relationship with key major mobile operators in Africa, including Airtel, Orange, MTN and Vodacom, that lease space on the towers for their radio access network (RAN) equipment deployments. (See African Towers Company Eaton Sells for $1.85B.)

The $523 million agreement to acquire MTN's minority stakes in two joint ventures, one in Ghana and the other in Uganda, will give American Tower full control over the tower assets in those countries, and enables the towers specialist to manage them alongside the assets acquired from Eaton. The sale of the stakes is expected to be completed during the first quarter of this year.

The joint venture in Ghana, called TowerCo Ghana, was set up in 2010, with MTN holding a 49% stake.

The JV in Uganda, ATC Uganda, was formed in 2011, with MTN again holding a 49% stake.

For MTN, the sale of the JV stakes is part of its ongoing "Asset Realisation Programme" that was launched in March last year with the aim of simplifying the operator's structure and reducing its debts and risks. (See MTN Raises R14B From Asset Sales in 2019 .)

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