In 2014, Safaricom and Airtel Kenya spent $120 Million (Kshs. 10.5 Billion then) in buying out Essar Telecom’s Yu operations. As part of the deal, Safaricom would take over the infrastructure holdings of Yu Mobile as well as 130 employees from its technical division while Airtel was set to take over the firm’s 2.7 Million subscribers and GSM licenses.
The deal was approved by the Communications Authority of Kenya but under strict conditions to ensure fair play within the industry. For its part, Safaricom was required to open up its vast M-Pesa network to other players in the region, a decision which allowed M-Pesa mobile money agents to also offer services of rivals. Both companies were also to pay Yu’s unpaid license fees while at the same time absorbing the company’s workforce.
According to Business Daily, Safaricom has been looking to offload part of the infrastructure it acquired from Yu. The telco’s subsidiary the East Africa Tower Limited,has since received approval from the Competition Authority of Kenya to offload 30 of 453 masts it acquired from Yu. East Africa Tower Company Limited was a subsidiary of Yu that Safaricom wholly acquired in 2014. Safaricom is yet to disclose for how much it offloaded the masts and which company would be looking to acquire this infrastructure. Going by previous trends, a likely buyer would be Helios Towers, which has completed similar tower acquisition in Nigeria, Tanzania and other African countries.
In addition to the towers, Safaricom also bought out Yu’s stake in The East Africa Marine System (TEAMS). Yu held a 10% stake in TEAMS, a joint venture project between the government of Kenya and Kenyan telco operators. TEAMS serves Kenya’s national fiber backbone network and the acquisition saw Safaricom increase its shareholding to 32.5%.