CALA news

A roundup of tower news across Central and Latin America

Andean Region: Andean Tower Partners acquires Torres Unidas

ATP announced the acquisition of Torres Unidas from Berkshire Partners. The acquisition adds 1,644 sites to ATP’s portfolio of digital communication infrastructure assets, making it the largest privately-owned tower company in the Andean Region. ATP now owns over 2,150 sites, and manages more than 32,000 master leased sites and 13 small cell network deployments. Financial terms of the private transaction were not disclosed.

For more details, read the exclusive interview with Marc Ganzi and Daniel Seiner here.

Argentina: Telecom Argentina-Cablevision merger receives regulatory approval

The merger between Telecom Argentina and Cablevision has been approved by ENACOM, Argentina’s telecom regulator. The deal still needs the approval of CNDC, the antitrust regulator, and will form the largest telecom group in Argentina.

Argentina: Operators gear up for 4G-suitable spectrum auction

Claro, Personal and Movistar have shown interest in the spectrum auction that Argentina is currently planning. The auction will award spectrum in the 700MHz, 850MHz, 1900MHz and 1700MHz bands which was originally awarded to ARSAT and Arlink. ARSAT’s allocation was then cancelled due to lack of operator interest while the government cancelled Arlink’s allocation due to unpaid license fees. The auction should generate approximately US$800mn.

Argentina: Telecom Argentina granted US$1bn loan

The Argentinian mobile network operator has obtained a US$1bn loan from a consortium of banks including Citibank, HSBC Mexico, ICBC, JPMorgan Chase Bank and Banco Santander.

Argentina: Tower One invests in Argentine towers

Tower One Wireless has put down to a US$315,000 deposit to acquire fifteen towers in Argentina. The sites are expected to cost a total of approximately US$1.05mn.

Argentina: Telefónica plans listing

The MNO has filed to list its Argentine subsidiary, valued at US$5.8bn, on the Buenos Aires Stock Exchange.

Brazil: Anatel to re-auction unused 700MHz spectrum

The Agencia Nacional de Telecomunicacões (Anatel) is working on 58 projects to be approved in 2018, with 20 of them focused on spectrum and 5G technology. Anatel is planning to re-auction the unused 700MHz spectrum which was originally auctioned in 2014.

Brazil: Telefónica plans US$7.4bn network investments

Telefónica Brasil is planning network investments for the upcoming three years up to US$7.4bn. At an analyst briefing, the company’s CEO Eduardo Navarro said that “Fibre is something we are doing very aggressively in Spain and here in Brazil. The demand for ultra-broadband is huge […] We have great advantages when you take our experience from Spain. Spain has the highest fibre penetration in the West, and we want to replicate that in Brazil.”

Brazil: Oi approved debt-for-equity swap

Oi’s Board of Directors have approved a debt-for-equity swap proposed by the company’s creditors. The operation requires the issuance of up to 1,756,054,163 new shares (a maximum of US$3.8bn). Under this terms, Oi’s unsecured bondholders can swap portions of their debt for shares in the company.

Brazil: Telefónica signs lease contract with Telxius

Telefónica Brasil announced the sealing of a contract with Telxius for a total value of approximately US$8.7mn for the lease of 92 properties. The contract has a 10-year duration.

Brazil: SBA Communications seals deal with Highline do Brasil

Via their Brazilian subsidiary, SBA Communications has reached agreement on the acquisition of 100% of the equity in Patria Investimentos-funded Highline do Brasil, which reportedly owns around 1,200 towers. More details on the deal can be found in the interview with SBA’s David Porte at this link.

Colombia: Colombian government selling its stake in Movistar 

The government is moving forward with its plan to sell its 32.5% stake in Telefónica’s Movistar. Telefónica Group is not likely to raise its own stake in the Colombian operator and the government is looking for a third-party investor.

The sale process is related to the fine (a combined US$1.6bn) received by Movistar (and Claro) for breaching the terms of their original 1994 licenses. According to their licenses, the operators should have returned all wireless infrastructure to the Colombian state after ten years, a period which was extended for an additional ten years. However, both Claro and Movistar failed to return them.

Costa Rica: Claro and Movistar complete spectrum acquisition

Claro and Movistar have finalised the acquisition of additional spectrum in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands. The announcement follows last year’s frequency auction, during which Claro paid US$19mn and Movistar US$24mn for available spectrum in the two bands.

Dominican Republic: Altice sale progressing

Altice, which is currently looking at divesting various assets across France, Portugal and the Dominican Republic, has invited bidders for its Dominican tower portfolio. Bidders shortlisted to the second round include Phoenix Tower International, Digital Bridge, Liberty Global and Millicom (in partnership with Apollo Global Management). The valuation for Altice’s global assets is €3bn.

El Salvador: SBA Communications to buy Tigo’s towers

Tigo El Salvador has agreed to a sale and leaseback deal for around 800 sites with SBA Communications. The deal is valued approximately US$145mn (value per tower US$181K).

French Guyane: Phoenix Tower International acquires sites from Digicel

Phoenix Tower International has announced that it has closed its transaction with Digicel Antilles Francaises Guyane (Digicel) to acquire the ownership or management rights relating to 215 wireless communication tower sites from Digicel.

“PTI is enthused to continue to work closely with Digicel and was uniquely positioned to execute this transaction given our existing presence in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. The French West Indies exhibit the hallmarks of a healthy wireless infrastructure market with multiple wireless operators that have significant network capex needs and a stable regulatory environment.” stated Dagan Kasavana, Chief Executive Officer of Phoenix Tower International.

Commenting on the transaction, Digicel Group CEO, Colm Delves, said; “We’re very pleased to be partnering with PTI on this transaction in the French West Indies, having previously done so in El Salvador.  We look forward to continue building on the strong partnership already established between Digicel and PTI.”

Mexico: Red Compartida launches ahead of schedule

ALTÁN Redes has reached the first target of the Red Compartida (due by the end of Q1 2018) ahead of schedule and launched its network that is now covering 32.2% of the population. The next target requires the wholesale network to cover 50% of the population by 2020.

Mexico: Digital Bridge completes securitization of Mexican Tower Partners

Digital Bridge Holdings announced that on October 18, 2017, its portfolio company, Mexico Tower Partners successfully issued a MX$2.124bn peso tower securitisation in Mexico’s capital markets. The notes were issued at a five year fixed rate of 9.01%.

MTP is the largest private independent operator of wireless communications infrastructure in Mexico with a portfolio of 1,763 managed sites across all 32 states. The issued notes are backed by MTP’s portfolio of wireless tower leases.

The notes, which were rated as an investment grade AAA by Moody’s and Fitch, have an anticipated repayment date of October 20, 2022 with a maturity date of October 18, 2047. Additionally, the notes have no amortization through anticipated repayment date versus the 55% amortization under the existing debt. Proceeds of the securitisation will be used to refinance the existing bank facility. The financing generates approximately MX$350mm pesos of additional capital at closing and will provide substantial cost and amortization savings over the next 5 years.

“We are very excited and proud to have completed the first successful securitization of a portfolio of tower assets in Mexico,” said Marc Ganzi, Founder and CEO of Digital Bridge. “Having completed this financing, we can continue to grow in the region and help meet the high demand for communications infrastructure driven by increased mobile data consumption.”

Mexico: American Tower seals deal with Mexican fibre firm

American Tower signed a deal to acquire KIO Networks’ Mexican subsidiary for an approximate US$500mn. KIO Networks owns over 50,000 concrete poles and 3,300km of fibre optic lines across Mexico’s key cities.

Mexico: Canadian Tower One to acquire Mexican infrastructure firm

Tower One Wireless has signed a letter of intent for the acquisition of an undisclosed Mexican tower company. According to Tower One’s press release the deal is for a Mexican-based tower company, which owns, builds and leases cellular towers to the telecom industry in Mexico, and includes a master lease agreement with AT&T.

Paraguay: Conatel finalises 700MHz auction

The 700MHz spectrum auction held in January received bids for a total US$84.5mn. Tigo Paraguay acquired the largest spectrum allocation followed by Claro and Personal.

Regional: Telefónica looking at divesting LatAm stake

Cinco Días, a Spanish newspaper, reported news of the possible sale of a portion of Telefónica’s LatAm operations in an attempt to reduce its US$50bn debts. According to the news outlet, the carrier could either look for a private equity investor or consider an IPO. Earlier this year, the carrier had reorganised its business units and divided its regional business operations into two segment: Telefónica Hispam Sur covering Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay and Telefónica Hispam Norte which includes Colombia, Mexico, Central America, Ecuador and Venezuela.

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