Airtel sells stake in mobile money business to Rise Fund for $200 million
The telecom company said the transaction is the latest step in its pursuit of strategic asset monetisation and investment opportunities.
Airtel Africa Plc. announced on Thursday it has signed an agreement to sell a minority stake in Airtel Mobile Commerce (AMC), the holding company for its mobile money operations, to the Rise Fund, a global impact investing platform, for $200 million.
According to a statement released on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE) website, the transaction gives Airtel Africa's mobile money business a valuation of $2.65 billion. The telecom company said the transaction is the latest step in its pursuit of strategic asset monetisation and investment opportunities.
Airtel Africa – a subsidiary of Bharti Airtel – operates across 14 African countries, with Nigeria as its biggest market. Its mobile money brand – Airtel Money – is available in the 14 countries. However, the company said it offers its digital mobile financial services in Nigeria through a partnership with a local bank. But it has applied for its own mobile banking licence.
The transaction with the Rise Fund is expected to reach first close over the next three to four months, subject to regulatory filings and approvals. Airtel said proceeds from the deal will be used to reduce its debt and invest in network and sales infrastructure in the respective operating countries.
“In line with our vision of enhancing financial inclusion, Airtel Africa offers a unique digital mobile financial services platform under the Airtel Money brand," said Raghunath Mandava, CEO of Airtel Africa. "With today’s announcement we are pleased to welcome The Rise Fund as an investor in our mobile money business and as a partner to help us realise the full potential from the substantial opportunity to bank the unbanked across Africa.”
From first close of the deal, the Rise Fund – an arm of TPG, a global investment firm headquartered in San Francisco, California – will be entitled to appoint a director to the board of AMC and have minority protection rights, according to the terms of the agreement.
“Through Airtel Money, Airtel Africa has built a unique platform that is closing the gap between traditional financial institutions and the millions of unbanked Africans across the 14 countries where Airtel Africa operates,” said Yemi Lalude, Partner at TPG who leads Africa investing for the Rise Fund. “We look forward to working with Airtel Africa to enhance their mobile money services, broaden its use cases, and grow into new markets.”
Airtel said it aims to explore the potential listing of the mobile money business within four years. The telco is also in discussions with other potential investors on further minority investments into Airtel Money. The group plans to sell up to a total of 25 per cent of the issued share capital of AMC.
The telco, whose primary listing is on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), debuted its cross-border listing on the NSE in 2019. As at 11.30 GMT on Thursday, Airtel Africa’s stock price on the NSE remained flat at N930 per share.
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