Zambian Towers: Some unanswered questions for Airtel Zambia

mobile-tower-africaAt the end of November last year, Airtel Zambia announced that they were shedding off the towers into a new tower only company called called Zambian Towers. Going with the reasonable assumption that the change went ahead, the company had said it would by now be in effect as effective date was 1 January 2014. Looking at the change however, we have a questions that we hope Airtel would address:

  • Celtel Zambia Plc (Airtel Zambia) is registered on the stock exchange and the K571 million is quite a material change on the balance sheet hence the need to get shareholders approval. Given that Bharti Airtel owns 97% and locals own only 3% is this just a mere formality even if the minority shareholders object?
  • What will be the accounting entry. Will Zambian Towers pay out in cash to Celtel Zambia Plc for the assets.? If yes what will the money be used for. Will there be further investment by Celtel Zambia Plc or will the money be repatriated to service the Bharti Airtel debt for the acquisition of the Zain Assets?
  • Who are the shareholders of Zambia Towers? Will the minority shareholders be given an opportunity to participate in this company or will it be a 100% subsidiary of Celtel Zambia Plc or Bharti Airtel.
  • Can Zambia Towers stand alone as a business and run profitably where their main customers own their own towers or have several-years deals to rent towers from other providers such as the MTN and IHS arrangement?
  • Despite having been available for a while now, tower sharing under Celtel Zambia Plc itself has been quite low, why would this change with the formation of Zambian Towers.
  • Managed services for networks have already been in operation for over 2 years with continued deterioration in QoS and exodus of skills from the partners. What assurances is there that this is the correct way to go when it has had below average results in Networks with NSN/Ericsson , IT with IBM and Customer Care with Tech Mahindra?
  • Who will head up Zambia Towers as Airtel itself is struggling to attract top talent. There has been a steady flow of qualified and capable people out of the business?
  • Do they have regulatory support and or approval to do this?
  • Do they have the approval and or support from the securities commission , and the LuSE?