Bloomberg News

Helios to Sell Nigerian Mobile Unit, Focus on Tower-Leasing

November 09, 2011

(Adds details on failed sale in final paragraph.)

Nov. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Helios Towers Nigeria Ltd. plans to sell the mobile-phone business it inherited as part of an acquisition of Nigeria’s Multi-Links Telecommunications Ltd., Helios Towers Africa Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Charles Green said.

The company will focus on the mobile-tower leasing business of Multi-Links, he said in an interview in Cape Town today. Helios Towers Nigeria bought Multi-Links in order to allow Telkom South Africa Ltd. a “smooth exit” from Nigeria, Green said.

Telkom, based in Pretoria, said on June 28 it agreed to sell Multi-Links for $10 million to an affiliate of Helios Towers Nigeria, following a legal battle between the companies.

Telkom, Africa’s largest fixed-line company, said on June 13 that it had ceased all funding to Multi-Links, which was sued for $252 million by Helios Towers Nigeria, a unit of London- based Helios Investment Partners LLP, for a breach of a lease contract. Multi-Links contested the validity of a 10-year contract to lease phone towers built for it by Helios. It had walked away from the deal in its third year. A judge at the High Court in Lagos ruled on June 7 that the contract was valid.

A deal to sell the CDMA-technology unit of Multi-Links to Visafone Communications Ltd. for $52 million in April fell through after Multi-Links failed to resolve the Helios claim.

--Editors: Vernon Wessels, Emily Bowers

To contact the reporter on this story: Sikonathi Mantshantsha in Johannesburg at smantshantsh@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Vernon Wessels at vwessels@bloomberg.net


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