Two weeks ago, TPG’s Rise Fund invested $200 million in Airtel Mobile Commerce BV (AMC BV) — the mobile money business of London-listed telecom Airtel Africa. After closing the deal, the Bharti Airtel subsidiary noted that it was still in discussions to give up more minority stake (25% of the issued share capital) to more potential investors.
Today, it has announced another investor — global payments provider Mastercard in a deal that will see Airtel Africa receive an additional $100 million for its mobile money business.
From the statement released, Airtel Africa and Mastercard have “extended commercial agreements and signed a new commercial framework which will deepen their partnerships across numerous geographies and areas including card issuance, payment gateway, payment processing, merchant acceptance and remittance solutions, amongst others.”
AMC BV’s $2.65 billion valuation on a cash and debt-free basis remains unchanged from the last time. And like the deal with The Rise Fund, Mastercard will hold a minority stake in AMC BV upon the completion of the transaction which will close in two tranches — $75 million invested at first close (which will be finalized in the next four months), and $50 million to be invested at the second close.
By selling off a minority stake in the mobile money business to The Rise Fund, Mastercard and other investors, the telecom believes it can raise enough cash to monetize its mobile money business and pursue a possible listing in four years.
In addition to receiving investments from TPG’s Rise Fund and Mastercard, Airtel Africa has begun selling off some assets as well. Last week, the company sold 1,424 telecommunications towers companies in Madagascar and Malawi to Helios Towers for $119 million. Both Helios and Airtel Africa also agreed to trade tower assets in Chad and Gabon, although the details remain undisclosed.
These efforts are geared towards the company’s pursuit of strategic asset monetisation, investment opportunities, and, ultimately, debt reduction.
“With today’s announcement, we are pleased to welcome Mastercard as an investor in our mobile money business, joining The Rise Fund, which we announced two weeks ago,” CEO of Airtel Africa, Raghunath Mandava said of the investment. “This is a continuation of our strategy to increase the minority shareholding in our mobile money business with the further intention to list this business within four years. We are significantly strengthening our existing strategic relationship with Mastercard to help us realise the full potential from the substantial opportunity to improve financial inclusion across our countries of operation.”