Asia News

Unprecedented volume of towers coming to market in Asia

India: Bharti Infratel share price reaches new high

Having been added to the MSCI (Morgan Stanley Capital International) Global Index, Bharti Infratel’s share price had soared to Rs 464 (at time of writing), up from Rs 336 at the turn of the year. Bharti Infratel’s market cap has risen to US$13bn, compared to US$7.6bn when first listed at the end of 2012.

Bharti Infratel added 2,500 towers in FY15 and expects a similar run-rate to continue or indeed accelerate, contributing to forecast tower growth of 2-3%, with tenancy growth around 8-9%

Bharti Infratel has around 2,700 solar powered cell sites, including their 42% share of Indus Towers.

India: Viom Networks and American Tower break off negotiations

American Tower’s on-off acquisition of a stake in Viom Networks appears to be off again, at least for now. Viom apparently felt there was an incompatibility of vision for the extension of the towerco business model, while sources suggest that there was an insurmountable gap in asset valuations.

India: Reliance Infratel back on the market

Reliance Communications (RCOM) is rumored to be making another attempt to sell a controlling stake in it’s towerco subsidiary, Reliance Infratel, which owns ~52,000 towers and 120,000km of fibre. RCOM will settle for divesting 51%, but will likely entertain offers up to its full 96% stake.

RCOM’s Consumer Business CEO Gurdeep Singh said during an investors call in early June 2015: “We are looking… at monetizing our non-core assets to deleverage the balance sheet. For this, we are looking at… a possible divestment in Reliance Infratel, which handles our towers portfolio.” This prospective transaction is examined in more detail in “How do towerco business models affect tower valuation?” later in this Journal.

India: IDEA Cellular selling 11,000 towers

IDEA Cellular are once again reportedly seeking to sell 11,000 towers to help reduce debt. Speculation suggests Idea Cellular is seeking around US$109,000 per tower, valuing the portfolio at US$1.2bn. The usual prospective buyers, American Tower and Bharti Infratel, have been joined by edotco in the list of companies linked with the opportunity. Read  “How do towerco business models affect tower valuation?” for TowerXchange’s analysis of this and other prospective Indian tower acquisition opportunities.

India: BSNL submits proposal to ministry to carve out their towerco

BSNL has made a proposal to the ministry to carve out a captive tower company to focusing on leasing up NSNL’s ~62,000 towers. Quoted in a recent interview with TeleAnalysis, BSNL’s recently appointed Chairman and Managing Director Shri Anupam Shrivastava said the “tower leasing proposal has gone to the ministry for its consideration. The proposal focuses on creating a separate business unit, creating a separate subsidiary company within BSNL which is fully owned by BSNL and creating a joint venture.”

Indonesia: Indosat to leverage 900 and 1,800 MHz spectrum to rollout 4G

Indosat plans to use 5MHz from the 900MHz band and complete 1800MHz for its LTE roll out and expansion. Currently their 4G sites number around 100. 4G, however, is not expected to really take off until 2017 due to a lack of 4G devices available in the market. Currently 3G penetration is around 25-30%.

Indonesia: Protelindo forecasts down year for organic growth

2015 may be a slower year for organic growth according to Protelindo’s management team, due to the slowdown in orders by telcos. Nomura suggested that Protelindo’s FY15 guidance of 5-12% revenue/EBITDA growth also seems muted compared to its past four-year forecast CAGR of 35% growth. The slowdown in orders is due to key telcos focussing more on monetisation of additional network capacities added over the past two years.

Indonesia: Indosat and XL Axiata tower sales not expected in short term

The next phase of SLBs in Indonesia may come from Indosat (which TowerXchange estimates retains 5,800 towers) and XL Axiata (6,500 towers), although neither sale process is expected to commence in the short term.

Indonesia: Telkom has a further 13,000 towers that could be sold

At the recent Nomura Investment Forum Asia, Telkom revealed that after the Mitratel deal they will still own a little over 17,000 towers, about 4,000 of which are leased to other tenants, suggesting a tenancy ratio around 1.25. Approximately 13,000 of Telkom’s remaining towers could be sold.

Indonesia: Tower Bersama remain confident of closing Mitratel despite delay

Tower Bersama’s management remain confident of closing the Mitratel deal, albeit potentially after the initial June 2015 deadline. The addition of the Mitratel towers will raise Tower Bersama’s tower count to 15,195. The tenancy ratio of the acquired assets will reduce Tower Bersama’s tenancy ratio below 1.5 compared to 1.64 now. Tower Bersama expects to build 1,500-2,000 towers in 2015, the majority of which will have Telkomsel as anchor tenant, compared to around 2,000 in 2014.

Indonesia: First Media and Telkomsel lead demand for Tower Bersama’s microcells

Tower Bersama has around 300 microcell poles in their existing portfolio, and reports that permitting such sites is easier in urban areas, and that capex costs can be 40% lower than a conventional macro tower. Tower Bersama reports receiving strongest interest in microcells from First Media and Telkomsel.

Indonesia: Indonesia’s leading towercos expect lease rates to hold up under pressure

At the recent Nomura Investment Forum Asia, both Protelindo and Tower Bersama reaffirmed their belief that lease rates in Indonesia would hold up at their current rate of around IDR 15mn  (~US$1,150). The capex cost of a typical GBT in Indoneisa is around IDR 950mn (US$ 71,244).

Indonesia: Protelinfo acquires iForte microcell and fibre business

On their recent announcement of the iForte acquisition, Protelindo management highlighted that iForte brings in a multitude of assets, namely: 1) 450 micro cell towers (~1.2x tenancy ratio), which management expects to rise to 550-600 by the year-end; 2) seven Hotel BTS and 3) 700kms of fibre in main streets and business districts in Jakarta and Surabaya. The company has exclusive rights to roll out fiber in 11 of the 12 major routes of Transjakarta bus routes. Protelindo’s iForte acquisition is covered in more detail later in this edition.

Malaysia: Telekom Malaysia 4G capex depends on tower sharing

Telekom Malaysia expects to spend RMB 1.65bn (US$ 2.65mn) on LTE, with the balance between capex and opex depending on the degree of tower sharing.

Myanmar: New Ooredoo Myanmar CEO has experience of tower sharing

Ooredoo Myanmar announced their new CEO will be Rene Meza. Meza previously headed up a Vodacom Tanzania where he formed a deep partnership with Helios Towers Tanzania.

Myanmar: Digicel MTC raises US$60mn in Islamic finance

Digicel recently acquired $60 million in sharia-compliant financing for its Myanmar venture. When Digicel’s Myanmar Tower Company (MTC) accedes to the financing it would mark the first Islamic cross-border deal in the country, law firm Clifford Chance said in a statement.

Myanmar: PAMEL, Apollo and edotco lead race to acquire MTC

Myanmar Tower Company (MTC) has been put up for sale, including all its contracts and sites, according to several market sources. Several companies have made initial bids and are now carrying out the due diligence process on MTC. PAMEL, edotco and Apollo Towers are believed to be among the shortlisted bidders.

Myanmar: Apollo secures order for 700 Telenor Myanmar towers

Apollo Towers Myanmar Ltd. announced that it has signed a new purchase order of more than 700 new telecom towers with Telenor Myanmar. For more on the structure of the third phase of the Myanmar rollout, checkout TowerXchange’s renowned and updated “Myanmar Rollout FAQs” later in this edition.

Myanmar: YTP forms local consortium

Myanmar’s prospective fourth operator YTP may be one step closer to entering the market. “We are founding a new consortium under the direction of a management committee, which includes the deputy minister of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology [MCIT], and we are working to make sure the steps are correct and transparent,” said YTP CEO U Shane Thu Aung in the Myanmar Times. “The second stage will be forming a joint venture with a foreign partner.”

Nepal: Nepalese regulator turns to infrastructure sharing to restore services

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) taken measures to allow infrastructure sharing to return connectivity to the areas hit by the recent earthquakes. The regulator wants to use money from the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF) to build passive telecom infrastructure including towers and fibre, which will then be shared by telecoms providers.

Pakistan & Bangladesh: VimpelCom considering divesting towers in Bangladesh and Pakistan

Two more substantial tower portfolios may be coming to market in Southern Asia as VimpelCom reportedly considers extending their tower monetisation strategy to Bangladesh  and Pakistan. VimpelCom’s local opco in Bangladesh Bangalink has an estimated 6,000 towers, while their local opco in Pakistan Mobilink has a similar size portfolio. See TowerXchange’s special features on Bangladesh and Pakistan later in this edition for more context.

Pakistan: Mobilink extends 3G footprint

Mobilink has expanded its 3G network to ten new cities, bringing the total to 53. Chunian, Farooqabad, Ganda Singh Wala, Gujjar Khan, Hafizabad, Harripur, Kasur, Nankana Sahib, Raiwind and Talagang are the latest additions to the company’s 3G footprint.

Pakistan: Towershare acquisition of 4,500 Warid towers pending confirmation

Local media outlets reported the acquisition of 4,500 towers from Warid by leading local towerco Towershare, but neither buyer nor seller has been at liberty to confirm the transaction nor it’s value.

Pakistan: Zong commits US$300mn to mobile broadband

China Mobile Pakistan (CMPak), which operates under the Zong brand, is planning to bring its 4G and 3G site numbers up to 3,000 and 5,500 respectively by the end of the year. Zong is investing US$300 million in its high speed mobile data networks in 2015, with a particular focus on 4G, adding that although the penetration of 4G handsets in Pakistan is currently low, it is growing fast enough that the cellco is ‘confident’ of spending heavily on a 4G rollout.

Singapore: Race for fourth operator license in Singapore

Consistel and MyRepublic, which aspire to be the fourth operator in Singapore, are both keen to acquire spectrum in auctions expected early in 2016. MyRepublic’s preliminary estimates are that they may need around 200 macro cells and 15,000 micro-cells. Macro BTS cost around SGD100k (~US$75,000) and micro-cells around SGD1k (~US$750). There are no independent towercos in the small, high value Singapore market – could a fourth operator create an opportunity for a new market entrant?

Thailand: DTAC seeks to extend mobile broadband and to share networks

DTAC has filed an appeal in the Supreme Administrative Court requesting revocation of a Central Administrative Court injunctive relief order to continue expanding its 3G/4G 2100MHz networks and share them with other Thai operators.

Vietnam: Vietnamese 4G licenses to be awarded in 2016

The government of Vietnam has announced a telecom development master plan stating that preparations for 4G technology will begin this year and the first licenses will be awarded in early 2016 after an assessment of the technology and market demand.

Asia: Telenor’s Head of Asia steps up to become Group CEO

Sigve Brekke, Telenor’s Head of Asia steps up to become Group CEO, Morten Sørby moves up from CEO of Uninor to become the new Head of Asia.