MTN had agreed to form a joint venture with specialist tower company IHS, which would own and operate the cellular network operator’s 9 151 transmitter towers in Nigeria, IHS said yesterday. The deal was expected to close in the fourth quarter, subject to regulatory approvals. The Lagos-based company did not reveal the deal’s value, but a source said it was worth about $18 billion (R191bn). MTN has a 46 percent share of Nigeria’s mobile subscribers, according to the industry regulator. Building and maintaining mobile communications towers in Africa is typically more expensive than in other regions because of security costs and electricity shortages, while revenue per user is often lower. That has prompted many operators to sell or lease towers to specialist firms, which can reduce building and maintenance costs. “The new towers company will market independent infrastructure sharing services to other mobile operators and internet service providers in Nigeria,” IHS said. The new firm would invest more than $500 million over four years to upgrade towers, boost maintenance and improve service quality. On completion, IHS will manage more than 20 000 towers in Africa. This tower deal is the fifth between IHS and MTN following transactions in Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Rwanda and Zambia in 2012 and last year. – Reuters