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MTN to outsource cell sites in Ghana

MTN agrees to sell its base stations in Ghana to a joint venture headed by American Tower Corporation

MTN to outsource cell sites in Ghana
MTN Group plans to outsource its cell sites in Ghana to American Tower Corporation.

American Tower Corporation (ATC), a US telecom infrastructure management firm, is set to acquire 1,876 of MTN Group's cell towers in Ghana for $428.3 million.

ATC will make the acquisition via a new joint venture with South Africa's MTN Group, called TowerCo Ghana.

Under the agreement, ATC will hold a controlling 51% stake in the holding company that will own the joint venture, and MTN Group will hold the remaining 49%.

ATC will pay up to $218.5 million for its 51% stake in the holding company. 

TowerCo Ghana is expected to build at least 400 more sites for both MTN Ghana and other wireless operators in Ghana over the next five years. 

MTN said that it will be the "anchor tenant" for each of the towers being purchased by the joint venture, which opens up the possibility of other network operators also leasing capacity on the same cell sites.

Phuthuma Nhleko, CEO, MTN Group, said that infrastructure sharing makes "absolute sense" for MTN and added that it was a "key aspect of the updated strategy" that was outlined to MTN shareholders in July.

Jim Taiclet, CEO, ATC, added: "Creating an independent tower company in Ghana reflects the execution of our strategy to invest in selected African markets with strong wireless growth potential and a positive investment climate."

MTN Group, ATC and MTN Ghana expect to close the transaction by early 2011.

The deal follows closely from an agreement struck by Vodafone Ghana and Eaton Towers, a London-based company that specialises in cell tower management, in October.

Vodafone Ghana signed a 10 year contract to outsource the operation and management of its cell towers to Eaton.

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