Europe news

A roundup of tower news across Europe

Finland: Digital Colony acquires Digita Oy

Global investment firm, Digital Colony has reached an agreement to acquire Finnish broadcast towerco, Digita Oy, from First State Investments. Digital Colony is a joint venture between Digital Bridge Holdings (investors and operators of digital infrastructure businesses) and Colony Northstar (a leading real estate investment management firm).

France: Altice towers attract interest

Both American Tower and KKR are rumoured to be among bidders for Altice’s mobile assets in France. TowerXchange believes that French towerco TDF and Spanish towerco Cellnex will also be interested in bidding for the French assets. Cellnex has also expressed an interest in Altice’s ~ 3,000 towers in Portugal.

Italy: Changing of the guard at INWIT

Reports in the Italian press indicate that a re-shuffle of the board at TIM-owned towerco INWIT will result in significant change in the organisation. La Repubblica names Giovanni Ferigo, current CTO at TIM, as the new CEO of INWIT.

Italy: INWIT towers rumoured to be coming to market in 2018 

Telecom Italia first toyed with the idea of selling its 45% stake in towerco spin off INWIT in 2015, and by early 2016 had three offers from Cellnex, EI Towers and American Tower. They decided against the sale in early 2016, aiming to grow the value in the asset before bringing it back to market. Since then, Cellnex has acquired almost 10,000 towers in Europe, American Tower has acquired FPS in France and EI has continued to grow. With the complication of new accounting rules affecting the way business is done, it seems Telecom Italia has decided to test the waters again and is looking to sell INWIT in 2018.

Italy: TIM spinoff going ahead

Telecom Italia has appointed two banks (Credit Suisse and Goldman Sachs) to work on their plans to spin off its network. TIM plans to retan control of the grid, worth in the region of €1.5bn, but reduce debt through the sale of a minority stake, as with towerco INWIT.

Norway: PPF set to acquire Telenor CEE assets

The sale of Telenor’s CEE assets to international investment group PPF is well underway, with several banks believed to be preparing a €3bn debt package for the sale. If it goes ahead, the deal will include Telenor assets in Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro. It’s also thought that PPF will be well positioned to acquire Liberty Global’s assets in the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Slovakia. Given PPF’s success in driving value through the division of the O2 telecoms business in the Czech Republic from its network infrastructure, we may well see a new business model and wireless infrastructure model developing in the CEE region, should the deal go ahead.

Spain: Cellnex sale going ahead

As part of Atlantia’s agreement to buy Cellnex parent company Abertis, the Italian company has decided to exercise a call option to buy some 29.9% or 34% of Abertis’ stake in Cellnex for between €21.20 and €21.50. Atlantia also said that its main shareholder, Edizione Srl, has granted Atlantia an option to sell a 29.9% stake in Cellnex, valued at €1.49bn

Spain: Cellnex annual report: revenues up 12%

Cellnex Telecom’s 2017 report showed an increase in EBITDA of 22%, and a growth of points of presence of 22%. Rollout of DAS nodes was up 26% yoy and 92% of the 2,200 planned sites by 2021 are committed. Cellnex are claiming to liquidity of €2bn, which would allow them to buy up the Altice assets in Portugal, but means they may need to find partners or new lines of credit if they would like to aim for Altice’s assets in both Portugal and France, or if an INWIT sale is imminent.

Spain: Cellnex acquires 551 mobiles sites from MasMovil for €36mn

Yoigo and Cellnex have a solid history in Spain, after Cellnex acquired 4,277 Telefonica/Yoigo towers in 2014, when Yoigo was a subsidiary of Telefonica. MasMovil, who acquired Spanish telco operator Yoigo in 2016, stated that the agreement with Cellnex is part of an ongoing process of efficiency and rationalisation that the company already has in place. MasMovil plan to invest the funds in FTTH developments.

UK: 3i Infrastructure plc announces investment of £186m in Wireless Infrastructure Group 

Wireless Infrastructure Group (WIG) has long aimed to look beyond towers and position its offering for future network needs. With this latest round of investment, 3i Infrastructure will increase its stake to 91%, becoming the company’s sole institutional shareholder alongside its management team, in order to back WIG’s 5G investment plans.

The investment comes as WIG continues to scale up its deployment of high capacity, 5G-ready wireless infrastructure including new communication towers serving rural communities together with small cells and fibre in busy urban centres.

Scott Coates, CEO of Wireless Infrastructure Group said ‘WIG is busy investing in new infrastructure right across the UK, from new towers in the Highlands of Scotland to 5G-ready small cell networks that will connect self-driving cars in the West Midlands.  With 3i Infrastructure’s backing we can continue to scale-up the company and deliver new tower, fibre and small cell infrastructure to support our customers as 5G approaches”.

WIG and 3i also bid for French towerco, FPS Towers in summer 2016, indicating that the partnership’s ambitions are not limited to organic growth. With several new processes kicking off in Europe in early 2018, there may be opportunities for inorganic growth in the short term.

UK: Vodafone trials 4G ‘mini mobile’ mast 

In the first trial of its kind, Vodafone has brought an 8ft mast into service in a rural part of Cornwall, south-west England. Developed in partnership with Commscope, the mast is half the height of the shortest standard mast and has very low requirements in terms of cabinetry and was installed in about 35% of the time it takes for a standard mast.

Regional: European Aviation Network completed 

Inmarsat and Deutsche Telekom’s joint venture hybrid satellite and ground based European Aviation Network has set up 300 LTE towers across the 28 European Union member states, as well as Switzerland and Norway, to deliver an in-flight connectivity solution over European airspace. The ground network pairs with an S-band satellite called Inmarsat S EAN, which launched in June 2017.

European Aviation Network services are due to launch in H118 on flights operated by International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, Iberia, Aer Lingus and Vueling.

Leave a Reply