South African telco Telekom is in exclusive negotiations over the sale of its masts and towers business, Swiftnet.

Telkom has said the preferred bidder is a consortium of equity investors, including a Black Economic Empowerment partner, led and managed by a private equity firm.

The operator, which spun off its telecom towers and mast into a separate division in 2021, is looking to sell the assets to unlock more value in the business. The telco had previously planned to publicly list the tower unit.

“Shareholders are hereby advised that Telkom is currently in exclusive negotiations with a preferred bidder in respect of the potential disposal of Swiftnet,” said Telkom in a statement yesterday (November 21).

“The preferred bidder is a consortium of equity investors, including a black economic empowerment partner, led and managed by a reputable private equity firm.”

Should a deal be agreed, it would require approval from regulators and shareholders.

Swiftnet is estimated to be worth 8.7 billion rand ($475 million) and owns a portfolio comprising 6,200 towers across South Africa. Telkom said it expects the process to be completed by 2025.

A number of telecom operators across the world have sought to sell their tower assets, notably including Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom.

Telkom, South Africa's third-biggest telecom company, has been considering a merger in the past 18 months. Domestic telcos MTN Group and Rain were both previously interested.

The telco also rejected a potential takeover from a consortium led by former CEO Sipho Maseko.