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American Tower Group, ATC takes Over MTN Nigeria Towers Operations From IHS amid Boardroom Squabble

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Due to boardroom squabbling over its controlling power in IHS Towers, MTN Nigeria has announced that ATC Nigeria will take over its tower operations from IHS by 2025.

MTN Nigeria has said its tower operations will be run by the Nigerian subsidiary of the American Towers Corp. (ATC) from 2025. ATC will be taking over from IHS Towers—whose lease to run MTN’s 2,500 network sites will expire in 2024 and 2025.

According to its filing on the Nigerian Exchange Ltd. (NGX) on Thursday, the company called for a tender for the tower contract. MTN said ATC was “selected as the preferred tower company for those sites based on its superior bid submission” after a review of the bids received for the tower contract.

This development comes amid a boardroom fight between IHS Tower and MTN Group over MTN’s request for more control of the tower company. MTN Group holds 26% of IHS Towers but only controls 20% of the voting share. In 2022, MTN completed a deal with IHS to take over more than 5,700 of its tower sites in South Africa, per Bloomberg. MTN had said that it could not sell its non-voting shares and wanted its stake in the company to be reflected in its voting power. IHS said in response that the proposals were not in the company’s best interests. Wendels, the second-largest shareholder in IHS Towers after MTN, backed MTN’s bid. Other shareholders remained on the sidelines of IHS’s bout with MTN, Wendel, and Blackwells.

This new agreement could seriously affect IHS Tower’s revenue. Nigeria is its biggest market by revenue and sales, much of which was from MTN. ATC is one of its biggest African competitors, alongside Eaton Towers and Helios Towers Africa. TechCabal reported that IHS Towers recorded a 9.4% decline compared to the first quarter of 2023. IHS says the decline in revenue, which put it $46 million below the last quarter’s revenue was due to the naira’s devaluation. MTN Nigeria also reported a foreign exchange loss in its 2023 second-quarter report, which dragged profits down by 64% for the period.

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