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Eurobites: Airtel Africa sells Tanzanian towers

Also in today's EMEA regional roundup: Agcom gives green light to FiberCop co-investment program; Telkom SA's spectrum auction gripes; UK security law kicks in.

  • Airtel Africa is selling its tower assets in Tanzania to a joint venture comprising SBA Communications and Paradigm Infrastructure for $176.1 million. As the Morning Star reports, Airtel says that $60 million from the sale will be used to invest in network and sales infrastructure in Tanzania, as well as reducing group debt. SBA Communications is a Florida-based owner and operator of wireless infrastructure; Paradigm Infrastructure is based in the UK.

  • Agcom, Italy's communications watchdog, has ruled that Telecom Italia (TIM)'s FiberCop last-mile network grid co-investment program conforms to EU regulations intended to boost high-speed broadband coverage, Reuters reports. Under the terms of the scheme, TIM is inviting all interested operators to participate in the construction of a secondary access network. (See Italy's TIM seeks co-investors to share cost of FTTH, Iliad Italia's fixed ambitions take shape with FiberCop deal and FiberCop is go after KKR and Fastweb firm up stakes.)

  • South Africa's Telkom is at loggerheads with the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) again, and has filed an application asking the Gauteng High Court to review ICASA's decision to include sub-1GHz spectrum in its forthcoming auction. This particular band is currently the subject of a legal challenge being brought by e-tv, the outcome of which, claims Telkom, will have a material impact on the availability of spectrum in this band. (See New spectrum battle erupts between Telkom and SA regulator.)

  • A new piece of legislation has come into force in the UK this week which could have repercussions for future attempts to complete tech and telecom deals. The National Security and Investment (NSI) Act allows the UK government to "to scrutinise and intervene in certain acquisitions made by anyone, including businesses and investors, that could harm the UK's national security," according to the government's press release. The government will also be able to impose certain conditions on an acquisition or, if necessary, even unwind or block it – though it is expected that "this will happen rarely and the vast majority of deals will require no intervention and be able to proceed without delay." The Act applies to acquisitions made from November 12, 2020. One of the deals that could conceivably fall under the scope of the Act is Nvidia's proposed acquisition of Arm, the UK-based chip designer that is currently owned by Japan's SoftBank. (See UK watchdog flexes muscles over Nvidia's Arm deal.)

    — Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, Light Reading

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