Airtel plans Africa stakes sales in bid to reduce debt, stay afloat
The Indian parent company of struggling mobile operator Airtel Kenya is set to sell stakes or merge some of its African units in a bid to stay afloat and reduce its debt burden.
Airtel Kenya said in a statement that it is “aware of Bharti Airtel’s consideration of stake sales or mergers to some of its Africa operations to cut debt as said by the chairman, Mr Sunil Bharti, during the World Economic Forum in Davos.”
Airtel has operations in 15 African markets including Nigeria, Kenya and Rwanda. It has struggled to crack the African market, forcing it to divest from some loss-making countries such as Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.
The statement attributed to Mr Bharti indicated that Airtel plans to reduce its footprint in Africa within a year.
A statement sent by the Airtel Africa corporate communications did not however disclose the specific countries that will be affected by the stale sales and mergers. It remains unclear whether the Kenyan unit will be affected.
“Mergers and acquisitions continue to be the norm for any multinational organisation and they affect all global organisations in equal measures as and when they happen,” said Airtel Africa managing director and chief executive Raghunath Mandava in a statement.