Global tower industry news

TowerXchange's bimonthly industry news roundup

Wednesday 15th August, 2018

Africa 

Ethiopia: Viettel eyeing market entry

Vietnamese telecom company Viettel is considering opportunities to enter the Ethiopian market, following the government’s plans to liberalise the telecoms sector. The opening up of the Ethiopian monopoly on the telecoms sector is a huge opportunity, and could take the form of a sale of a stake in state-owned Ethio Telecom, the granting of new licenses or some combination of both options. Viettel currently operates or holds licenses in Mozambique, Burundi, Cameroon and Tanzania, but is not the only interested party, with South African MTN and French Orange expressing an interest as well.

Kenya: Alphabet Loon to launch with Telkom Kenya 

Telkom Kenya and Alphabet’s Project Loon will deploy balloons to beam high-speed internet access to cover rural and suburban populations from next year, marking Loon’s first commercial deal in Africa. After being used to provide connectivity to more than 250,000 people in Puerto Rico following a hurricane in 2017, it’s hoped that the technology can help Kenya achieve full internet coverage for its population.

Nigeria: IHS returns regional infrastructure license 

IHS has returned the regional infrastructure company (InfraCo) license which was awarded in January 2015 by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) after struggling to secure ‘right of way’ approval from local governments. IHS also had difficulties deploying infrastructure in its licences North Central Zone. The licence allows for the deployment of metro fibre and associated equipment on an open access, non-discriminatory and price-regulated basis, with IHS and MainOne Cable awarded them in 2015 and a further two permits given to Zinox Technologies and Brinks Integrated Solutions in Q118.

South Africa: Electronic Communications Amendment Bill redrafted

The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) has finalised amendments to the controversial Electronic Communications Amendment Bill which is due to be presented to the cabinet by the end of September. In 2016 the government drew heavy criticism for stating that all wireless service providers would be required to return their previously assigned spectrum for allocated to the WOAN project, and as yet it is still unclear whether the government will reserve spectrum for its wholesale open-access network (WOAN) or whether mobile operators will be asked to support WOAN in return for exclusive-use spectrum rights.

Zimbabwe: Foreign firms interested in NetOne

A stake in 45%-50% of Zimbabwean state-owned MNO NetOne has drawn the interest of at least four foreign firms, including an American-funded Lebanese consortium, a South African telecoms giant, an Abu-Dhabi-based firm and a group of ex-pat Zimbabwean investors. A report by the Zimbabwe Independent added that the potential investors ‘had showed willingness to clean up NetOne’s balance sheet and inject fresh capital into the state-run entity’. Despite being the first MNO to launch cellular services in Zimbabwe, NetOne has failed to make a profit and has rebuffed previous offers from MTN, who are not believed to be on the list of bidders this time around.

MENA  

Egypt: Telecom Egypt and Etisalat agree to share virtual fixed voice services 

Telecom Egypt has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Etisalat Misr to provide the latter with ‘virtual fixed voice services’, covering ‘all the basic terms that shall allow both companies to formalise a commercial agreement in due course’. The deal will enable Etisalat Misr to provide its customers with fixed voice services over the fixed line incumbent’s nationwide network, in a tie-up it represents ‘a major step towards enhancing cooperation between both companies and achieving mutual benefits, which will in turn enrich the Egyptian market with the diversification of offers and services’. Etisalat Misr will benefit by being able to provide its customers with a fixed voice offering, while Telecom Egypt expects to boost revenues generated as a result of the increase for its domestic wholesale business.

Oman: Regulator to review market 

Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is planning to review the telecoms market in order to identify potential constraints to competition, as well as to prevent abuse of dominant position by MNOs. Muscat Daily reports that the regulator is commissioning a consultancy project to assist in a ‘Market Review’, with consultants invited to submit proposals for the subject tender by August 28.

‘The TRA is also cognisant of new concepts (e.g. OTT content, IP interconnection, IoT, cloud computing, IXPs) that directly or indirectly have impact on the market reviews. As such, market definitions and dominant positions may have changed since the last market assessment,’ the TRA said, adding: ‘It may also be noted that the Market Definition and Dominance Decision of 2013 is also due to be revised in 2018, therefore the TRA now intends to review all existing and potential new markets.’

Americas 

Brazil: American Tower and Algar won Cemig auction

In a recent auction, American Tower acquired Lot 1 of Cemig Telecom’s assets which include its Minas Gerais, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro assets for an approximate price of USD87.5mn. Lot 2, which includes assets in Goiás and the Northeast of Brazil, was acquired by Algar Telecom for USD20.3mn.

Asia 

Bangladesh: Four towercos to receive licenses to operate

The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has identified the four towercos that will be awarded licenses to operate in the country. edotco Bangladesh, TASC Summit Towers, iSON Tower Bangladesh and AB Hightech Consortium were selected out of the eight applicants via the beauty contest method.

India: Vodafone Idea launch cost-cutting initiatives

The newly merged Vodafone Idea operator has started to implement a series of money saving measures which include the rationalisation and optimisation of its tower infrastructure, distribution networks as well as its marketing budget.

India: Reliance Communications gets approval to sell its assets

Reliance Communications (RCOM) received the green light from India’s Supreme Court to sell its assets (including towers, spectrum and fibre) to Reliance Jio Infocomm (Jio). RCOM is required to pay USD80.3mn to Ericsson by the end of Q3 2018 and the sale of its assets will be instrumental to meet the September 30 deadline. The asset monetisation plan has already started with RCOM agreeing to sell spectrum to Jio on August 11.

Philippines: Smart and Ericsson will deploy 5G 

Smart Communications, the wireless arm of PLDT Inc., will partner with Ericsson to deploy a pilot 5G network in H119. PLDT has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Sweden-based technology firm for the deployment, set to begin in Luzon, the country’s largest and most populous island. Ericsson will install 5G Radio Access Network (RAN), core and transport solutions which all parties hope will allow the MNO “to explore industry partnership engagements, collaborate with schools and universities, and further develop competence in 5G.”

Thailand: AIS and DTAC submit bids for 1800MHz

Thailand MNOs Advanced Info Service (AIS) and Total Access Communication (DTAC) have each submitted bid applications for the second round of the 1800MHz spectrum auction scheduled for August 19. Both operators have placed THB2.5 billion (USD75mn) to guarantee their bids for four slots – the maximum allowed – in the 1800MHz band. True Move retaliated and claimed that the bandwidth it is operating on is enough to accommodate subscribers’ growth. Meanwhile, NBTC’s auction for spectrum in the 850MHz band has been cancelled, after none of the three operators expressed an interest in the frequencies.

Europe  

France: KKR working on Altice financing

Following their purchase of a 49.9% stake in Altice’s SFR towerco, KKR is believed to be working on a EUR500mn debt package and EUR300mn of capex financing for the new entity.  KKR is believed to be underwriting the deal itself and contacting several banks, although sources say that the aggressive terms of the financing has resulted in a smaller pool of interested parties, and that KKR could use its own debt fund.

Italy: Seven operators in the running for 5G spectrum

Seven telcos have pre-qualified for Italy’s auction of 5G wireless spectrum, set to get underway in September. Current MNOs Telecom Italia (TIM), Wind Tre, Vodafone and Iliad are in the running, as well as Fastweb, Linkem and Open Fiber. The bidders will all compete for frequencies which will allow them to deploy ultra-high-speed mobile networks.

1275MHz of spectrum is on offer in the 700MHz band (75MHz between 694MHz-790MHz), 3.6GHz band (200MHz between 3600MHz-3800MHz) and 26GHz band (1000MHz between 26.5GHz-27.5GHz), with the government hoping to raise at least EUR2.5 billion (USD2.9 billion) from the sale. A report from CorCom says that Iliad is set to concentrate on the 700MHz range, which has a portion of frequencies reserved for a new entrant, while Open Fiber is said to be interested only in the 26GHz spectrum.

Spain: Telefónica sells a further stake in Telxius

After selling 40% of the business to KKR in 2017, Telefónica has agreed to sell a further 10% stake in infrastructure arm Telxius to the holding company of Amancio Ortega, Europe’s richest man.

Pontegadea, Ortega’s family-run holding will pay EUR378.8mn in a deal that will help Telefónica to reducing their debt pile, which stood at more than 2-1/2 times its core profit at the end of last year. The deal values the Telxius shares at around 19% more than KKR paid for them last February, allowing TEF to maintain sustainable returns for shareholders as well.

Telefónica will remain Telxius’s biggest shareholder and maintain operational control of the unit.

United Kingdom: BT scales back plans for G.fast technology

After the recent governmental ‘Future Telecoms and Infrastructure Review’ in the UK, fixed line incumbent BT is believed to be scaling back plans to roll out G.fast technology to tens of millions of premises, instead focussing on upgrading 5.7mn copper lines to the technology. Instead, Openreach, BT’s network unit, has upped its fibre rollout plans in the next two years from two million to three million premises.


Thursday 2nd August, 2018

Africa 

Kenya: Loon launches first commercial service in Africa with Telkom Kenya

Alphabet subsidiary Loon has signed an agreement with Telkom Kenya to launch a 4G network in the country using its ultra high altitude balloons. The network will cover rural and sub-urban regions in Kenya and marks Loon’s first commercial service in Africa. Read TowerXchange’s interview with Project Loon’s Strategy and Operations Director, Mauro Goncalves de Oliveira Filho.

Mozambique: 4G spectrum auction imminent

The National Communications Institute of Mozambique has announced that a 4G spectrum auction could be imminent. At present all three MNOs, Vodacom, state-owned mCel and Viettel owned Movitel only have 2G and 3G licenses in the country.

Nigeria: Deadline extended in Teleology Holdings’ acquisition of 9mobile

The deadline to finalise Teleology Holdings’ acquisition of 9mobile has been extended in order to give all parties concerned time to complete the necessary documentation. Teleology Holdings was confirmed as the preferred bidder for the MNO back in February , the deal is expected to close imminently.

Uganda: Regulator steps in on Eaton – Smile dispute

The Uganda Communications Commission has stepped in to resolve a dispute between Eaton Towers and Smile Communications in the Ugandan market. Eaton Towers had disconnected Smile’s network after unpaid bills; access to the network has been restored since the dispute has been resolved.

Uganda: Mauritius Telecom frontrunner in UTL stake sale

Mauritius Telecom has emerged as the frontrunner in the acquisition of a majority stake in embattled state-owned fixed and mobile network operator, Uganda Telecom. The company has offered US$45mn for the 69% stake, laying out plans to invest a further US$100mn over a three year period. Safaricom had been linked with the deal but is understood to have pulled out.

Asia

China: China Tower Corporation’s IPO rollout coming

China Tower Corporation (CTC), the world’s largest telecoms tower operator, plans to raise up US$1.4bn from ten cornerstone investors for its HK IPO of up to US$8.7bn, in what would be the world’s biggest listing in four years. CTC, the Beijing-based mobile phone infrastructure firm, has set an indicative price range of HK$1.26 to HK$1.58 (US$0.16-US$0.20) per share for the Initial Public Offering (IPO), valuing itself at between US$28bn and US$35bn.

India: Vodafone and Idea receive final green light to merger

The Department of Telecommunications has given the final green light to the merger of the two operators, following a payment of US$1.06bn in spectrum liberalisation fees and one-time spectrum charges. The merger should close later this month and will generate long-term savings to the two operators up to US$10bn.

Malaysia: edotco completes Tanjung Digital buy

Axiata Group owned unit edotco Group Sdn Bhd has completed the acquisition of an 80% stake in Tanjung Digital Sdn Bhd for RM140mn, allowing the company to expand its presence in Kedah with a portfolio of 225 new towers. The acquisition was undertaken by edotco Malaysia.

The company aims to improve its operational efficiency of tower infrastructure in Kedah, reinforcing its commitment of supporting fast and reliable coverage in the nation.

Pakistan: Axiata to divest stake in Multinet Pakistan

Axiata is planning to divest the entirety of its stake (89%) in Multinet Pakistan to Adnan Asdar Ali, the shareholder owning the remaining 11% in the company. In 2017, Multinet has accumulated losses for US$6.2mn and its contribution to Axiata’s performance has been defined as “immaterial”. The sale of share (at US$1) is subject to regulatory approvals.

Pakistan, Bangladesh: VEON places offer to control Banglalink and Jazz

Russian company VEON has presented to the shareholders of Global Telecom Holding (GTH) a US$2.55bn offer to take full control of Banglalink and Jazz. The two operators are now owned by Egyptian company GTH of which VEON is the majority owner. The deal is now subject to both shareholders and regulatory approval and is expected to close in Q4 2018.

Philippines: ISOC Infrastructures wants to become new Philippines towerco

Filipino company ISOC Infrastructures has teamed up with Malaysia’s OCK Group Berhad as they seek to build 25,000 cell towers across the Philippines in the next seven years.

The company has submitted proposal to the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and DICT’s acting secretary Eliseo Rio Jr. said they will study the proposal. The move follows the government’s new tower policy, which aims to drive infrastructure sharing among telco players.

Philippines: TBGI to renew its congressional franchise ahead of third operator bid

Transpacific Broadband Group International (TBGI) is seeking to extend its congressional franchise for another 25 years as the company plans to participate in the government’s third telco initiative. The company has applied to renew the franchise it holds under Republic Act No. 8675 to 2048, which is set to expire in 2023.

Earlier this month, TBGI announced its intention to enter the race to become the country’s third major telecoms player. In a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange TBGI unveiled a number of initiatives to support its bid, including selling up to 40% of the company for foreign investors in a private share sale, setting up a common tower company and tapping Chinese technology and telco partners.

Philippines: Globe to deploy 5G by 2Q19

Globe Telecom has announced it is on course to deploy 5G in the second quarter of 2019. The MNO is currently focused on upgrading its core, radio and transmission network to support 5G by the end of the year, and plans to start offering a 5G fixed wireless mobile broadband service in 2Q19. Globe executives recently visited China to meet with Huawei deputy chairman Eric Xu to discuss their 5G partnership.

Thailand: CAT board approves TOT merger plan

The board of Thailand’s operator CAT has approved the proposed merger with fellow State-owned operator TOT as an alternative to splitting up both companies. CAT’s Board has approved a resolution for a merger with TOT to create a national telecom company that would be in a stronger position to compete against private rivals. The merger would be conducted instead of the Government’s original plan to spin off the infrastructure assets of both companies into two new companies.

MENA 

Iraq: Government announces plans to auction fourth license

The Iraqi government has announced plans to auction a fourth mobile license in the country with PWC having been appointed to assist in the tender. The fourth license holder would join national operators Zain, Asiacell and Korek Telecom in the country. Read TowerXchange’s study of the Iraqi market.

Pakistan: Axiata to sell its majority stake in Multinet Pakistan

Axiata has announced that it will be divesting its 89% stake in Multinet Pakistan for a nominal fee of US$1 to minority shareholder Adnan Asdar Ali. With declining performance, Multinet’s contribution to Axiata’s financial performance was reported to be minimal.

Tunisia: Vodafone and Tunisie Telecom ink collaboration agreement

Vodafone and Tunisie Telecom have signed a three year agreement whereby Vodafone will support the latter in areas including technology and procurement. The two operators will also cooperate and roaming and are examining ways to further deepen their collaboration agreement

Europe 

France: MNO consolidation back on the table

According to Orange Group CEO Stephane Richard, consolidation in the French market is ‘unavoidable’. Pressure on MNOs to roll out 5G infrastructure and diversify their offering are likely to lead to a new round of merger talks between the four telecoms operators from 2019 onwards. Richard stated that Orange would not take a leading role in a potential consolidation of the telecoms market but would facilitate any deal and could buy some assets.

Germany: 3,000 LTE base stations added in H118

Telefonica Deutschland claims to have installed or upgraded more than 3,000 LTE base stations between January and June 2018, with a focus on improving performance in densely populated areas and along transport infrastrucutre such as railways and motorways.

‘Whether in major German cities or in the countryside – we are currently driving the LTE expansion like no other company, so that our customers benefit from an improved and faster O2 network,’ commented Cayetano Carbajo Martin, Member of the Board of Directors and CTO of Telefonica Deutschland, adding: ‘We will continue to push forward in the future and take extensive measures to expand the network in the interest of our customers.’

Norway: Telenor sale to PFF gets green light

PFF’s proposed acquisition of Telenor’s Central and Eastern Europen assets has been approved by the European Commission (EC). The transaction, valued at $3.3bn, is expected to be completed in Q318 and will include Telenor’s opcos in Serbia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Montenegro, as well as technology service provider Telenor Common Operation.

Owned by Czec entrepreneur Petr Kellner, PPF already owns 81.1% of O2 Czech Republic and its O2 Slovakia unit, and 100% of Czech infrastructure provider Ceska telekomunikacni infrastruktura (Czech Telecommunications Infrastructure, or CETIN), created after carving out O2’s infrastructure assets.

UK: Government commits to fibre strategy

The UK’s Department for Digital, Communication, Media & Sport (DCMS) has published a national, long-term strategy for the UK’s telecommunications sector, focussing on the provision of full fibre services. The ‘Future Telecoms Infrastructure Review (FTIR)’, proposes changes that the state says are needed to ensure that in future, the majority of the population will have access to 5G, including calls for 15 million premises to be connectable via full fibre broadband by 2025, while targeting nationwide coverage by 2033. Recommendations in the review include: the introduction of new legislation that will guarantee full fibre connections for new build developments; reforms to the regulatory environment for full fibre broadband that will drive investment and competition and is tailored to different local market conditions; an industry-led switchover from copper to full fibre coordinated with regulator Ofcom; and a reform of regulation by Ofcom so as to allow unrestricted access to Openreach’s ducts and poles for both residential and business use.

The DCMS has acknowledged there will be some parts of the country where it is unlikely the market will be able to deliver on its own, saying that nationwide availability of full fibre is likely to require additional funding of between £3bn and £5bn to support commercial investment in the final 10% of areas (most of which are rural).

Americas 

Dominican Republic: Phoenix Tower International acquires 1,049 towers in Dominican Republic

Boca Raton-based Phoenix Tower International (PTI) has reached an agreed with Altice Dominicana, a subsidiary of Altice Europe N.V. to purchase 100% of Teletorres del Caribe, a Dominican tower company with a portfolio of 1,049 wireless communication tower sites for US$170mn.

The transaction expands PTI’s footprint in the country, where the company will now own over 1,600 sites as well as reinforces PTI’s position as the leading tower company across the Caribbean. The transaction is expected to close during Q3 2018 and is subject to the effective de-merger and customary closing conditions.


Monday 2nd July, 2018

Americas 

Argentina: Cablevision-Telecom Argentina merger gets conditional green light

The Comisión Nacional de Defensa de la Competencia (CNDC) has approved the merger between the two entities but set several conditions including the divestment of 143,464 customers by the merged entity across five provinces (Cordoba, Buenos Aires, Entre Rios, Misiones and Santa Fe). Additionally, the merged company must return an 80MHz block of spectrum to comply with the set spectrum cap as well as offer wholesale broadband connectivity to other operators.

Brazil: NII Holdings starts Nextel’s sale

NII Holdings has initiated the sale of its 70% participation in Nextel Brasil and potential buyers include Telefónica Brasil and Access Industries, who scooped a 30% stake from Ice Group earlier in 2018.

Caribbean: Digicel agrees tower sale

Digicel has signed a sale and leaseback deal for 450 sites across the Caribbean with an undisclosed buyer. The deal is expected to be completed in the second quarter of the year.  This is the third deal the company is sealing with a towerco following the divestment of 202 towers in El Salvador and 215 sites in the French Antilles to Phoenix Tower International.

Asia 

Australia: Telstra to create an infrastructure company

Telstra has announced the creation of a standalone infrastructure business as part as the company’s new restructuring strategy. The plan, named “Telstra2022”, aims to simplify its operations, cut the company’s workforce and reduce its cost base.

Effective on July 1, Telstra infraco incorporates the operator’s fixed network infrastructure including data centers, domestic fiber (excluding anything mobile-related), copper, HFC, international subsea cables, exchanges, poles, ducts and pipes. All services will be sold back to Telstra, as well as wholesale customers and NBN Co.

Telstra’s CEO Andrew Penn highlighted that the new unit will provide more flexibility and transparency in the management of Telstra’s underlying infrastructure and will reinforce the discipline with which capital allocation occurs across the group.

India: CCI approves Bharti-Indus merger

The Competition Commission of India gave the green light to the merger of Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel. Following the merger, which is expected to close by Q1 2019, the joint towerco will operate over 163,000 towers. Current Indus’ shareholders Airtel and Vodafone will control the merged entity while Vodafone will be offered shares in exchange for its 42% stake. Idea will have the option to sell its stake or receive new stakes while Providence, a minority shareholder, will be able to partially divest its 4.85% stake and exchange the rest (1.5%) for shares.

India: Shareholders vote for Vodafone and Idea’s combined MNO’s name

With the merger between Vodafone and Idea pending, the companies’ shareholders have approved the name of the new combined entity which will be called Vodafone Idea Limited. The combined MNO will serve approximately 433.91mn subscribers but to date, the merger is delayed due to a new request by the Department of Telecommunications for over US$690mn relating to 2015 restructuring of Vodafone.

India: Reliance Jio secures loan facility

Reliance Jio has secured a loan facility of almost US$100mn from Korea Trade Insurance Corporation (K-SURE) for a ten-year period. This is the second facility agreed between K-SURE and the Indian operator.

Myanmar: Mytel investment reaches US$1bn 

The latest entrant of the Myanmar’s mobile market has already invested more than US$1bn in infrastructure by deploying 5,000 base transceiver stations and rolling out 30,000km of fibre-optic cable. Mytel has now reached half of their target of US$2bn over its 15-year license period and a company official stated that they will be installing more BTS to improve the network capabilities.

Philippines: DICT publishes requirements for third MNO

On June 26, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) of the Philippines published its draft Terms of Reference (TOR) for the selection of a third MNO.

The draft, which is still subject to a round of public consultations, outlines the relevant criteria for an MNO to qualify for the process, the scoring system and the frequencies that they are going to award among many other details. Specifically, the successful third operator will have to commit an annual capital and operational expenditure of US$747mn over a five-year period. A third operator will also have to offer a 30% population coverage and deliver a minimum 5Mbps average broadband speed.

In addition, the TOR requires a net worth of at least PHP10 billion with a Congressional franchise to operate telecom services, while in the case of a consortium bid, Filipinos should control at least 60% and at least one of the members should be a holder of a Congressional franchise. The draft also states that any prospective bidders should not be a related party to any existing telecom group and have no outstanding liabilities.

South Korea: SK completes 5G spectrum auction 

South Korea has concluded the auction for its 5G spectrum, which will allow operators to begin the rollout in December. SK Telecom and KT each won 100MHz of the 3.5GHz spectrum, while LG Uplus secured 80MHz. The three operators clinched 800MHz of the 2.8GHz spectrum and paid a total of 3.6183tr won, 340bn won more than the starting price of 3.3tr.

The operators will start preparation for the 5G rollout very soon and SK Telecom has already tested data transfer with the 5G Standalone (SA) standard with Nokia.

Thailand: DTAC will bid in next spectrum auction

Total Access Communication (DTAC) has submitted an official letter to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) confirming its intention to bid for 2×5MHz of spectrum in the 850MHz band.

The NBTC has already approved a new timeline and requirements for the auction, taking place on August 18. Last month, the regulator cancelled the tender for three blocks of 2×15MHz spectrum in the 1800MHz band as none of the country’s three largest MNOs was planning to participate on the bid.

Africa 

Regional: IHS joins Eaton and Helios in IPO postponement

IHS Towers has become the latest of Africa’s towercos to announce that it has put its plans to list on hold. Upcoming elections and uncertainty about the future of 9mobile in Nigeria (where over two thirds of IHS’ 22,860 towers are located) are thought to have been contributing factors to the postponement. As reported by TowerXchange in November, IHS was understood to be targeting a valuation of around US$10bn.

Niger: Creation of new telecoms regulator approved

Niger’s council of ministers has adopted a law establishing the formation of a new telecoms watchdog, the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Post (Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et de la Poste, ARCEP). The adoption of the new regulator will bring Niger in line with the directives of ECOWAS.

Nigeria: Teleology holding requests extension to 9mobile payment deadline

Teleology Holdings has reportedly request a 20-day extension to the 30 June deadline by which it was expected to pay the balance of its US$500mn bid to acquire 9mobile (formerly Etisalat Nigeria).

Tanzania: Vodacom and Azam Telecom awarded 700MHz spectrum

Vodacom and Azam Telecom have been confirmed as the winning bidders in Tanzania’s recent spectrum auction. The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) awarded each operator 2x10MHz in the 700MHz spectrum band.

Europe 

Finland: 5G services launched

Mobile network operator Elisa claims to have launched a 5G network in Finland, including the sale of 5G subscriptions in both Tampere in Finland and Tallinn in Estonia, with a call between governmental counterparts in the two countries. Although full 5G launch is still dependent on a suitable spectrum auction and licenses, Elisa is ambitious to make Finland a world leader in 5G mobile services. Elisa stated that, having built out a network with 5G capability in Tampere and its surrounding areas, work on similar upgrades is already underway in Turku and Jyvaskyla.

Italy: Iliad sees rapid take-up

Since Iliad launched in Italy at the end of May it has signed up around 300,000 new customers, with an introductory deal of unlimited calls, unlimited SMS and 30GB of data for €5.99 a month for the first million customers. Around 40% of Iliad’s new customers have come from Wind, 25% from Vodafone and 20% from TIM. Their goal is to achieve 10% of market share, or around 80 million customers, on a network which relies heavily on the towercos in the country.

Germany: O2 and E-Plus merger complete

Telefónica Deutschland has completed the merger of the O2 and E-Plus networks and says that the new merged network will be optimal for the implementation of future network technologies such as 5G. Telefónica plans to continue the integration and modernisation of base stations across Germany, as well as adding new locations in both urban and rural locations.


Thursday 21st June, 2018

MEA news

Chad: Tender for fourth MNO license launched

Chad’s Ministry of Post and New Information Technologies has launched a tender for a fourth MNO license with bids needing to be submitted by 5 July. The operator would join Tigo, Airtel and state owned Groupe Sotel Tchad in the market.

Ethiopia: MTN and Vodacom express interest in Ethiopia

The Ethiopian government has announced its intent to split state owned Ethio Telecom into two in a bid to increase competition in the country’s telecoms sector (which operates as a monopoly in the country). Both MTN and Vodacom have expressed an interest in entering the Ethiopian market should the right opportunity become available.

Kenya: Airtel-Telkom Kenya merger talks dropped

Plans to merge Airtel and Telkom Kenya have been dropped. Talks had emerged about a merger between the two entities earlier this year in order to create a sizeable competitor to Safaricom. It is understood that Airtel and Telkom Kenya failed to agree on a number of matters including future investment plans.

Zimbabwe: Econet’s HQ goes green as Distributed Power Africa installs 99.9kW solar system

Econet Group’s newly formed ESCO, Distributed Power Africa has installed a 99.9kW solar system on the operator’s headquarters in Harare. The system will produce enough energy to meet the office’s requirements making the building 100% reliant on renewable energy. Distributed Power Africa (DPA) says it is on course to complete a total of 1MW of solar installations for Econet in 2018, including solar systems at a number of base stations.

Asia news

Bangladesh: Eight new firms apply for tower company licences

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has recently received eight new applications for tower company licences, including one from state-owned Bangladesh Telecommunication Company Ltd. The application process, which finalized on June, received a total of 19 applications including joint ventures with local and foreign firms and some independent local companies. BTRC will be sending its recommendation to the government and will award four licences to run the tower business with a view to separating the network business from telecom services.

Myanmar: TPG to create biggest tower owner in Myanmar

U.S private equity firm TPG Capital is pursuing a deal to create the biggest independent towerco in Myanmar. Apollo Towers Myanmar Ltd., which is backed by TPG, is evaluating a potential merger with competitor Pan Asia Majestic Eagle Ltd., according to Bloomberg sources. TPG would become the main shareholder, owning more than 3,000 towers and an enterprise value of at least $700 million.

Myanmar: Edotco signs energy management deal with Ooredoo

Edotco has signed a deal to manage Ooredoo’s energy assets across 1,250 of the operator’s tower sites in Myanmar. The deal will notably change edotco’s business model in Myanmar as the company will also provide power services to tower. “By operating and maintaining the overall power management systems, we will be able to optimise energy systems and energy pass through management at the sites,” said Vijendran Watson, country MD for edotco in Myanmar

Philippines: third licence pushed back again

Philippines’ Government has again delayed the allocation of a third mobile licence and a third MNO won’t be chosen until September. The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) included Converge ICT Solutions, EasyCall Communications Philippines, Now, Philippine Telegraph and Telephone among the interested parties. Press reports have named several Asian operators as interested parties, including China Telecom, Japan’s KDDI, South Korea’s LG Uplus, and Vietnam’s Viettel.

Europe news

Czech Republic: Towerco coming to market

Rumours that Macquarie-owned České Radiokomunikace (CRa) will come to market in 2018 have intensified, with a financial advisor belived to be working on bringing the towerco to market in late summer. With an EBITDA of €63mn, the asset could fetch as much as €800mn for 800 towers in the Czech Republic. Macquarie bought the towerco for €574mn in 2010 and has attempted to sell it unsuccessfully at least twice since then.

France: KKR leading bids for Altice

It’s believed that KKR, who successfully acquired 40% of TEF’s infrastructure arm Telxius in 2016, are the winning bidders on Altice’s French towers, where they will also take a minority stake.

Slovakia: Macquarie brings another asset to market

As well as looking for a buyer for Czech towerco České Radiokomunikace (CRa), Macquarie is believed to be considering the sale of Slovak asset Towercom AS, which owns around 700 towers in Slovakia. The towerco is expected to be valued at around €240mn.

Spain: Edizione considers selling part of Cellnex stake

In April 2018 Edizione acquired 29.9% of Cellnex through the acquisition of Abertis by subsidiary Atlantia. Edizione are now believed to be searching for new investors to inject extra cash into the company and support growth.

On May 31st Cellnex held its general shareholder meeting and reported revenues of €792mn and EBITDA of €355mn (+12% and +22% respectively) for 2017. With potential partnerships or management deals in the pipeline with Deutsche Telekom’s Deutsche Funkturm as it rolls out across Europe, and with Saudi operator STC, as well as an active role in the bidding for Altice’s towers in Portugal and the potential to acquire TIM’s 60% stake in Italian towerco arm INWIT, Cellnex is one of the fastest growing towercos in the world and will be sure to garner interest from infrastructure funds and investors from around the world.


News archive

Thursday 6th June, 2018

Americas news

ICE Group plans sale of Nextel stake

AI Media Holdings presented an offer to Scandinavian operator Ice Group to acquire its 30% stake in Nextel Holdings for US$70mn.

Brazil: Cemig’s telecom assets for sale

The Brazilian utility company Cemig announced its intention to sale its telecom assets with bids open between 16-20 July. The final result of the bids will be announced on 27 July.

MEA news

Ghana: MTN to list 35% on the local stock exchange

MTN Ghana are to list a 35% stake on the stock exchange, a condition of the company’s 4G license agreement. The IPO is expected to be finalised by the end of July.

Saudi Arabia: Saudi Telecom Company receive offers for towerco management contract

Saudi Telecom Company has received several offers for the management contract for their dedicated towerco business unit. Names linked with the contract include IHS Towers, TASC Towers and Digital Bridge.

Senegal: Expresso Telecom tower deal edges ever closer

The sale of Expresso Telecom’s 500 towers to Al Karama Towers is edging closer to completion. The sale of Millicom’s Tigo is understood to have halted proceedings but with the Tigo deal now finalised, discussions appear to be moving ahead with regulatory approval expected by Q3 2018.

South Africa: Cell C signs “roaming” agreement with MTN

Cell C has signed a roaming agreement with MTN, whereby MTN will provide 3G and 4G services outside of the main metropolitan areas (with each maintaining their own networks in major cities). Whilst termed a roaming agreement, observers have commented that the deal is rather a form of active sharing.

Asia news

India: Idea and American Tower finalise deal

Idea Cellular and American Tower have finalised the transfer of Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services Limited and its 9,900 towers to the towerco at an enterprise value of US$592.7mn. Vodafone has already completed the transfer of its tower unit to American Tower and over a two-year period, 6,300 co-located tenancies will become single ones, without exit penalties.

India: RCOM settles with Ericsson and gets closer to asset sale

Reliance Communications (RCOM) has agreed the payment of US$81.3mn to Ericsson as part of its settlements with creditors. RCOM has until 30 September to make the payment and is now allowed to sell its towers, fibre and spectrum rights to Reliance Jio and its real estate in New Delhi and Chennai to Brookfield.

Indonesia: Sarana Menara Nusantara finalises acquisition of KIN

Sarana Menara Nusantara (SMN) has finalised the acquisition of Komet Infra Nusantara (KIN). KIN will remain a distinct operating unit under Protelindo. SMN acquired KIN for IDR1.4tr in an all-cash deal. To date, KIN has over 1,400 towers and 2,000 tenancies. The newly combined entity will run a total portfolio of over 16,400 towers (27,000 tenancies) and 5,300km of fibre.

Indonesia: Net1 commits to rural plans

Indonesian 4G operator Net1 has agreed to back the government’s plans to improve rural coverage and broadband access. Net1 CEO, Larry Ridwan, was recently quoted stating that only 73% of Indonesian villages have 3G internet access and only 55% have 4G and that “Net1 4G LTE Network at 450MHz is able to reach 50-60km, even up to 100km, from a base transceiver station, so it is suitable for [an] archipelago country like Indonesia which has 16,056 islands. In terms of infrastructure investment … it is certainly more efficient.”

Philippines: Rules for new entrant MNO face delays

The entry of a third MNO in the Philippines is being delayed by bureaucratic processes. In fact, while the rules on the assignment of mobile frequencies to a new entrant were supposed to be approved by the 28th of May, that failed to happen.

Sri Lanka: Government approves 4G investments

The government’s Board of Investment of Sri Lanka has approved a total of US$1.3bn of investments, of which US$200mn will be devoted to network expansion and upgrade work of 4G services.

Europe news

Netherlands: Deutsche Telekom looking to expand reach of DFMG

During the DT Q1 earnings call on May 12, Timotheus Höttges, CEO of Deutche Telekom, stated that they are looking to expand tower arm DFMG into the Netherlands, and possibly to work with Cellnex on the expansion, referring to Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners’ partnership with Cellnex in Switzerland, saying: “We are working already with the Sunrise people in Switzerland on this equation in the Netherlands”. It’s rumoured that DT may also look to divest the 8,000 towers they own in the UK, which are currently tied up in MBNL in partnership with Three.

Portugal: Binding offers for Altice in Portugal

Binding offers for Altice’s Portuguese portfolio, believed to be worth around €500mn, were expected on 3rd June. Morgan Stanley, Cellnex, Antin Infrastructure Partners and Digital Bridge have all been linked to the portfolio of around 3,000 towers.

Turkey: banks lined up to take control of Turk Telekom

The three largest creditors of Turk telekom’s parent company Ojer Telekomunikasyon (OTAS), Garanti Bank, Isbank and Akbank, have agreed on initial proposals to take over Ojer Telekomunicasyon’s 55% stake in Turk Telekom as part of a debt restructuring deal. OTAS has defaulted on three repayments since September 2016, resulting in creditors seeking a takeover plan with the government, which trains a 25% stake in Turk Telekom. The plan, which if approved should be implemented in June, would see ownership divided between 29 creditor banks via a specially created holding company.

Thursday 24th May, 2018

Americas news

Peru: Bitel announces investment plans

The Vietnamese-backed operator has released plans to invest US$110mn until 2020. The investment will be utilised to deploy the 2600MHz spectrum on the company´s network across 183 provinces.

Chile: Ministry calls for more investments in telecom sector

The Chilean Ministry is pushing for further investments across Chile to bridge the digital divide. Gloria Hutt, Minister of Transport and Telecommunications, has been quoted saying that “All actors in the sector must do our best to reduce the digital divide that exists in the country, and persists for the 44% of people without access to fixed internet. Today in Chile we have 200 communes with residential fixed internet penetration of less than 20%, 110 communes that have less than 5% and 55 communes that have less than 1%. Today, all of them are very far from being part of the digital revolution.”

MEA news

Cameroon: MTN to match Orange’s coverage obligations; CamTel to provide satellite connectivity

MTN has agreed to amendments to extend coverage as part of its concession renewal with the Cameroonian government. The coverage obligations will match that of Orange and require the MNO to rollout 4G networks to all major cities and locations with 10,000 or more residents. Meanwhile, CamTel has teamed up with satellite company, SatADSL to provide connectivity to rural areas

DRC: Government adopts new telecommunications act; MNOs secure 4G licenses

The DRC’s National Assembly has adopted a new Telecommunications Act, overhauling the country’s legislative framework to bring it in line with regional peers. Key changes include the withdrawal of the state from the commercial sector and new rules surrounding infrastructure sharing in the country. The developments have coincided with the awarding of 4G licenses to the country’s MNOs. Vodacom has become the first operator to officially launch 4G services in the country. The operator is the leading MNO in the DRC with 38.9% market share. As well as its 4G network, the MNO continues to invest aggressively in its 2G and 3G networks.

Ghana: AirtelTigo to upgrade network

Newly merged entity AirtelTigo has announced that it has partnered up with Ericsson to consolidate and upgrade its network. The move will unify existing assets whilst expanding network coverage across the country.

Tanzania: Vodacom eyes up consolidation opportunities?

Market leaders, Vodacom are reportedly examining potential consolidation opportunities in the Tanzanian market with both Airtel and Millicom being mooted as potential targets. Millicom has recently exited several African markets as it continues to hone its focus on Latin American markets. Airtel has sold tower assets across much of its African portfolio, with its Tanzanian operations being one notable exception.

UAE: Etisalat and du announce plans to launch 5G mobile networks in 2018

Both Etisalat and du have announced plans to rollout 5G infrastructure and launch 5G mobile networks in 2018. 5G ready devices are not expected until 2019 however both MNOs are readying their networks in preparation.

Europe news

Italy: Iliad expected to launch by 21 June

New market entrant, Iliad has announced that it plans to launch services in Italy by 21 June. The MNO becomes Italy’s fourth operator alongside TIM, Vodafone and WIND

France & Portugal: Further speculation around rumoured bidders

Interest around the potential bidders for Altice’s towers continues to grow, with both American Tower and KKR being named by Bloomberg. Other interested parties include Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, Cellnex, Antin Infrastructure Partners and Digital Bridge, all aiming for the 25 May deadline.

Asia news

Bangladesh: Telecom regulator receives multiple bids for tower license

Following the deadline of 13 May, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has received 15 applications for the right to become a towerco in the country. The guidelines permit up to four licenses to be awarded. According to local news, officials cite multiple applications from the same companies in a move to assure higher chances of winning. As expected, American Tower and edotco have both filed applications. The deadline has also been extended to 11 June at the request of some companies.

China: World’s largest towerco China Tower Corporation files IPO in Hong Kong

In mid-May, China Tower Corporation filed its IPO with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, five months later than its initial target of 2017 year end. CICC and Goldman Sachs are the joint sponsors. According to the filing, CTC had revenue of CNY 67.085bn for its tower business, where 0.38% were from micro sites as opposed to macro towers, and of which started only in 2017. IBS revenue for the same year were CNY 1.284bn, while cross-industry site application and information services were CNY 169bn and other business contributed CNY 127bn. Total revenue for 2017 was CNY 68.665bn with net profit of CNY 1.943bn.

Malaysia: Naza Communications eyes expansion on heels of 5G

Previously known as Premium Radius, Naza Communications is looking to build a portfolio of 1,000 towers across Malaysia by 2023 to capitalise on the demand for mobility and IoT. The towers are expected to be “future-proof” as 5G rollouts take place. As of August 2017, the towerco owned approximately 350 structures in different parts of the country which were a mix of passive and active assets for a large number of telco and non-telco clients. Out of that, it had close to 300 cell sites, which is a combination of towers and micro cell sites.

Myanmar: Reports of potential merger between Apollo Towers and PAMEL

Bloomberg is reporting talks of a merger between private equity-backed Apollo Towers and PAMEL (also known as Pan Asia Majestic Eagle). According to TowerXchange data, Apollo Towers has ~1,800 towers while PAMEL has ~1,250. The two combined would make it the largest towerco in the country by tower count, surpassing current number one IGT (2,500).

Vietnam: In-building solutions provider PLA installs new technology to enhance coverage

To boost 4G indoor mobile coverage in Vietnam, PLA has deployed the first multi-operator indoor digital system in the country at Vincom Center, one of the famous shopping centers in Hanoi. The new system is said to provide an enhanced MBB experience better than legacy distributed antenna systems (DAS), playing a role in boosting 4G indoor mobile coverage.

Thursday 10th May, 2018

Americas news

Colombia: Three operators launch LTE-A technology

Tigo, Claro and Movistar have all launched LTE-A services across Colombia. Tigo Une was the first to launch the LTE-A network in April across Bogotá, followed by Movistar who has already activated the services across 129 municipalities and Claro, whose LTE-A network reaches 199 municipalities

MEA news

Kenya: American Tower acquires Telkom Kenya towers

In April, American Tower reached an agreement to acquire 723 towers from Telkom Kenya. The transaction adds a fifth market to American Tower’s African portfolio with the company also present in Nigeria, Uganda, Ghana and South Africa. American Tower’s Kenyan subsidiary will compete with Eaton Towers in the country as well as Safaricom’s in house towerco. The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2018.

Senegal: Millicom completes sale of Tigo Senegal

Millicom has completed the sale of its Senegalese business to a consortium involving NJJ, Sofima and Teyliom Group. Millicom had previously reached a deal to sell the unit to Wari Group before pulling out of the transaction, a move that Wari Group had launched a legal challenge against.

MENA

Tunisia: Abraaj’s takeover of Tunisie Telecoms take falls through

Abraaj Group’s takeover of a 35% stake in Tunisie Telecom has fallen through. The private equity firm had previously reached an agreement to acquire Etisalat International Telecommunication’s stake in the operator. Observers widely expected the takeover to lead to a tower sale from Tunisie Telecom.

Asia news

Bangladesh: Tower license application deadline looms

Just days remain before the May 13th deadline to bid for one of the four licenses available in the country. The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) finalised and released the tower sharing license issuance guidelines in April 2018, allowing the holder “to develop, build, own, acquire, rent, lease, operate and maintain tower for providing telecommunication services to the Licensed Telecommunication Operators and to other entities authorized by the Commission.” One of the main criteria outlined by the BTRC is the applicant (or its partner) must have at least three years’ experience in tower services, managing 5,000 towers by the application date.

Bangladesh: MNO tower portfolios on the market

On the heels of the country’s finalised tower sharing regime, MNOs in the country, notably Telenor’s Grameenphone (GP) and VEON’s Banglalink, have kick started their tower divestment initiatives again. Read TowerXchange’s exclusive interview with GP in March 2017 here and with Banglalink in February 2017 here.

India: American Tower anticipates impact to revenue in coming months

As part of its first quarter earnings reporting, ATC noted it was reducing the midpoint of its full year 2018 outlook for property revenue, net income and adjusted EBITDA, partly due to the accelerated carrier consolidation-drive churn as a result of the bankruptcy of Aircel.

The Philippines: Globe Telecom expresses interest to partner with rival PLDT for towerco

According to Globe’s president and CEO Ernest Cu, the company is open to forming a towerco in partnership with PLDT for future tower builds. Earlier in the year, Globe announced it was exploring a full or partial tower asset sale, retaining UBS as its financial advisor. President Rodrigo Duterte has been trying to introduce a new third telco player into the country, with potential supporting tower policy also.

Pakistan: Government approves DH Corp’s investment in edotco Pakistan

DH Corp’s investment of 45% equity stake in edotco Pakistan has been approved by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA). This clears one of the first regulatory hurdles for the two partners to acquire ~13,000 towers from Pakistan Mobile Communications Limited’s tower subsidiary (Deobar Private Limited). DH Corp is listed on the Pakistan Stock Exchange and is one of the country’s largest conglomerates with a varied business portfolio which includes fertilizers, foods, chemical storage and handling, trading, and energy (including independent power production, renewables and petrochemicals).

Europe news

France: buyers teaming up for Altice assets

It is believed that buyers are forming consortia in order to better position themselves for the Altice assets in France, which are believed to be worth in the region of €4bn for around 10,000 assets, of which around 6,000 are macro towers. KKR and Antin Infrastructure Partners are believed to have entered into an agreement to bid together; with insurance firms Allianz and AXA working with Ardian and Digital Bridge to bid against them. American Tower are still believed to be in the running, as well as Canadian OMERS, as the bidding moves into the next round.

Italy: Shake up at Telecom Italia

Activist US fund Elliott has shaken up the Telecom Italia board, winning a shareholder vote to appoint ten independent directors to the board, and reappointing CEO Amos Genish, who both Elliott and Vivendi hope will work well with all shareholders. Genish’s long term plan to focus on digital transformation and get back an investment grade credit rating has been given a seal of approval by shareholders.

Italy: TowerTel not for sale, says EI Towers

Following rumours in the press that EI Towers may be about to sell telecoms arm TowerTel to Cellnex, EI Towers’ CEO Guido Barbieri has stated that they are in the course of developing the TowerTel asset, telling Reuters that it is ‘not for sale’. Barbieri stated that they would continue with their strategy of acquiring small ‘mom and pop’ towercos in Italy, and speculated that the Altice towers could even be of interest, given the similarity in scale between the Portuguese portfolio and EI’s own assets.

Portugal: bidding moves on despite regulatory hang ups

Altice’s Portuguese portfolio is thought to be worth around €500mn, with buyers including Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners, ATC, Cellnex, Antin Infrastructure Partners and Digital Bridge all lining up to make binding offers by the 25th May cutoff. There are still some question marks around the regulatory landscape in Portugal however, with a proposed revenue threshold worrying some bidders.

Thursday 26th April, 2018

Americas news

Brazil: QMC Telecom announces credit facility with ING Bank

QMC Telecom has sealed a credit facility and loan with ING Bank to finance tower development and acquisitions throughout Brazil. Interested parties in the deal shared their comments on a recently published press release.

“The closing of this groundbreaking facility in Brazil is a testament to the strong platform our management team has built over the years,” stated Jose Stella QMC’s Co-CEO and founder. “ING has a strong global presence in the tower industry and we are thrilled to be partnering with them as we continue to serve our clients in Brazil and expand our installed tower base,” adds Rafael Somoza, also a QMC co-CEO and founder.

“Latin America is the midst of building a wireless infrastructure designed to meet the needs of the next generation of communications and technology. QMC is on the forefront of this development through its installation of new towers across Brazil and Latin America,” said Valtin Gallani, Director, ING. “QMC’s management team has built a unique growth platform with an impressive investor base, and we are proud to be partnered with them to extend these efforts.”

Brazil: Brazil Tower Company seals debt financing

Brazil Tower Company (BTC) has closed US$79mn of a US$104mn long-term debt financing with a group of lenders led by Cordiant Capital of Montreal. The company plans to double its tower portfolio from 600 to 1,200 sites over the next couple of years.

“We are very excited about the growth we are realizing in Brazil through new tower development and new collocations and amendments. Our backlog of new towers and pipeline for growth is the strongest we have seen since 2015,” said Tom Staz, BTC’s Chief Financial Officer and a partner at 1848 Capital Partners in Miami, BTC’s primary equity sponsor. “With the support of our new debt facility and a large inventory of customer orders, we will continue to strategically rollout new tower sites over the next 18 – 24 months to double the size of our tower portfolio and triple the cash flows of the business.”

“BTC is very disciplined in its approach to new site selection. We focus on highly trafficked and defensible tower locations that will benefit from strong double-digit organic growth,” added Chahram Zolfaghari, Chief Executive Officer of BTC. “We have achieved consistent year-over-year growth in asset count and cash flow and look forward to accelerating that growth with our new round of financing.”

Mexico: Maxcom agrees to sell towers to MXT

Mexican operator Maxcom has sealed a sale and leaseback deal with MXT, the group behind MXT Towers, for 72 towers for an approximate value of US$10.3mn. Maxcom is an integrated telecoms services operator offering voice and data to residential customers and SMEs across four metropolitan areas in Mexico.

Peru: Movistar Peru announces infrastructure investment

The operator plans to invest US$432mn in 2018 to improve both its mobile and fixed infrastructure.

Regional: AT&T withdraws DirecTV IPO

AT&T has announced it will cancel the planned IPO of its shares in the holding company behind DirecTV and Sky Brasil. The decision, according to an investor statement, is “based on current market conditions.”

MEA news

Kenya: Airtel and Telkom Kenya to merge?

Rumours have circulated that Telkom Kenya may acquire Airtel’s Kenyan opco in a bid to create a stronger challenger to Safaricom which dominates the market with 75% market share. The reports suggest that Airtel and Telkom may look to share infrastructure. Airtel has previously sold its assets to Eaton Towers in the country with Telkom’s portfolio of 1000 sites currently up for sale. Eaton is widely expected to be the likely acquirer of such assets, but American Tower’s name has also been linked with the process.

Niger: Airtel awarded 4G license

Airtel has become Niger’s first MNO to obtain an 4G license. Airtel is the country’s largest MNO with 47% market share.

Nigeria: 9mobile sale on hold?

Reports have emerged that the sale of 9mobile to Teleology Holdings may not go ahead after objections from the some of the entity’s current shareholders. Teleology Holdings have paid a US$50mn non-refundable deposit for the business and has until June to pay the balance of US$450mn.

Regional: Eaton to drop IPO plans?

After Helios Towers pulled their plans to list on the LSE and JSE last month, rumours have emerged that Eaton Towers plans to shelve their IPO plans. Reports suggest that weaker than expected investor appetite was behind the cancellation of the process, with the limited scale of the listing as well as associated country risk thought to have been a deterrent. A potential merger or acquisition could represent an alternative strategy.

Saudi Arabia: Regulatory talks progress whilst STC continues search for towerco partner

The CITC has been engaging in dialogue with key tower industry stakeholders regarding the proposed additional levies being proposed

Senegal: Sale of Tigo to NJJ, Sofima and Teyliom Group approved

The sale of Millicom’s Tigo to a consortium involving NJJ, Sofima and Teyliom Group has been approved by Senegal’s President, Macky Sall. Millicom had previously agreed to sell the opco to Wari Group before cancelling the deal in favour of the consortium. Wari Group had raised a legal challenge surrounding the cancelled deal; the President’s approval puts the dispute to bed.

Tunisia: Tunisie Telecom stake sale cancelled

Etisalat International Telecommunication’s sale of its stake in Tunisie Telecom to Abraaj Group has been cancelled, amid controversy that senior members of Abraaj had mishandled funds.

Asia news

China: State Grid Corporation of China opens up tower assets to China Tower Corporation

Described as a major milestone between the telecoms and electric utilities industry, CTC and the State Grid have established a strategic partnership to share infrastructure resources. The State Grid has a nation-wide footprint, with over 940,000km of overhead transmission lines and 2.91mn base towers, while CTC has 1.9mn towers as of Q4-2017. Both are state-owned entities and the world’s largest in their respective industries.

India: Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers merger creates world’s second largest towerco

On 25 April, it was announced the two towercos will merge to create a pan-India entity, with over 163,000 towers operating across all 22 telecom service areas in India. The merger ratio (1,565 shares of Bharti Infratel for every 1 Indus Towers share, the “Merger Ratio”) is within the range recommended by the independent valuer. The transaction values Indus Towers at an enterprise value of INR715bn (US$10.8bn) or 9.3x EV/LTM EBITDA. The new entity will be named Indus Towers Limited and continue to be listed on the Indian Stock Exchanges.

South Korea: Government mandates infrastructure sharing for 5G rollout

KT, LG U+ and SK Broadband will be expected to jointly undertake facility construction in the future as the number of base stations required for 5G is estimated to be 4.3-18x greater than 4G LTE. The Ministry of Science and ICT has also estimated annual savings of US$37mn (KRW40bn) for the set up of 5G facilities and equipment under a sharing model. Further investment savings over a 10-year span would be in the range of US$370mn to US$926mn (KRW400bn to KRW1trn).

Malaysia: Celcom and edotco Create an industry champion for network service excellence

Celcom Axiata Berhad and edotco Malaysia Sdn. Bhd. has launched On Site Services Sdn. Bhd., a new organisation focused on achieving operational and maintenance service delivery excellence. In a first for the industry, employees of On Site Services will also co-own up to 30 percent and be pioneer stakeholders of the company.

On Site Services will be the largest independent First Line Maintenance (FLM) entity in the country with a group of experts with over 25 years of experience in field and operations and will be managing over 10,000 network sites throughout Malaysia. Up to 400 Celcom FLM Division employees specialising in Corrective and Preventive Maintenance (for both active and passive elements) as well as Support Activities will form On Site Services.

Myanmar: Universal Service Fund to be collected from operators beginning in June

The government will be collecting two percent of the income from telecom operators to boost network coverage in rural areas. Currently nearly 90% of the population is covered with 94% as the target by the first quarter of 2019. The four operators in the country are state-owned MPT, Telenor, Ooredoo and Mytel.

Europe news

Austria: Telekom Austria assessing options in southeastern Europe

Telekom Austria is believed to be interested in investing in southeast Europe, according to quotes from CEO Alejandro Plater in Der Standard. The MNO, controlled by America Movil and including the Austrian state among its shareholders, could well be looking to invest in the Balkan region. With so much MNO M&A lined up for the CEE region over the course of 2018, TowerXchange will watch with interest to see how tower assets are managed by new owners looking to maximise their investments.

Finland: Digital Colony Acquires Digita

Marc Ganzi’s investment firm Digital Colony has announced that a Digital Colony affiliate has entered into a binding agreement to acquire Finnish broadcast towerco Digita Oy from First State Investments.

Founded in 1999 as a spin-off from national broadcaster Yle, Digita is Finland’s leading TV and radio broadcasting network and the only platform with the ability to reach nearly 100 percent of the Finnish population. The company is also Finland’s largest independent tower network owner, providing infrastructure solutions to the country’s largest mobile network operators. Digita will continue to be led by CEO Juha-Pekka Weckström and the existing management team.

“Digita is well-positioned to extend its business model into adjacent markets as the deployment of 5G will increase demand for new macro towers, rooftop sites, small cell deployments, and data centers,” said Ben Jenkins, Managing Partner at Digital Colony. “We look forward to partnering with Digita’s highly experienced team to ensure that the company’s processes and systems remain best in class to provide customers state-of-the-art solutions across the entire value chain.”

France & Portugal: Altice sale gathers momentum

Altice is believed to be running a streamlined process for the acquisition of their towers in France and Portugal, with binding offers expected by the end of May.

Bidders for the ~10,000 French towers are believed to include French fund Antin Infrastructure Partners, whose early investments in European towers included the formation of FPS Towers, a French towerco sold to American Tower in late 2016; private equity firm KKR, who own 40% of Telefonica’s infrastructure arm Telxius; American Tower, who acquired ~2,400 French towers in 2016 through their acquisition of FPS Towers; and insurance companies AXA and Allianz, both of whom have been linked with European tower investments in the last couple of years, most notably with the sale of a 40% stake in Telxius. The French portfolio is believed to be around 6,000 macro towers and a further 4,000 rooftops and could fetch up to €4bn.

Bidders for the ~3,000 towers in Portugal are said to include Europe’s biggest towerco, Cellnex; Digital Bridge, who recently acquired broadcast towerco Digita in Finland, Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners and American Tower. The infrastructure is believed to be almost entirely macro towers and is valued at close to €500mn.

Italy: Edizione to acquire stake in Cellnex

Atlantia has agreed to sell a 29.9% stake in Cellnex to Edizione, the controlling shareholder in Atlantia and Benetton family holding company. The deal is conditional on the Atlantia’s acquisition of Abertis going through successfully, and is expected to be worth a total of €1.489bn.


Thursday 12th April, 2018

MEA news

Kenya: Airtel and Telkom Kenya to merge? 

Rumours have circulated that Telkom Kenya may acquire Airtel’s Kenyan opco in a bid to create a stronger challenger to Safaricom which dominates the market with 75% market share. The reports suggest that Airtel and Telkom may look to share infrastructure. Airtel has previously sold its assets to Eaton Towers in the country with Telkom’s portfolio of 1000 sites currently up for sale. Eaton is widely expected to be the likely acquirer of such assets, but American Tower’s name has also been linked with the process. 

Nigeria: MTN and Huawei complete deployment of rural solutions 

MTN and Huawei have completed the deployment of Huawei’s RuralStar 2.0 solution in remote and rural areas across Nigeria. The solution allows antenna to be deployed on 12m poles instead of the usual high towers and is said to reduce infrastructure construction costs by 70% 

 Zambia: Unitel acquires 4th MNO license 

MNO Unitel (which has operations in Angola, Sao Tome and Principe, Cape Verde and Portugal) has been awarded Angola’s fourth mobile license. The operator joins Airtel, MTN and Afrimax (which trades under the Vodafone brand in the country). 

Qatar: Vodafone completes sale of Qatari opco 

Vodafone Group has completed the sale of Vodafone Qatar to Qatar Foundation. Qatar Foundation acquired the 51% stake for US$367mn.


Asia news

India: RCom allowed to proceed with full asset monetisation programme   

The courts have vacated the stay previously imposed on Reliance Communications’ asset sales. The MNO is now able to proceed with the sale of its spectrum, towers, fibre, media convergence nodes and real estate to Reliance Jio for Rs25,000 crore (US$3.85bn). The tower and fibre assets of RCom sit within its infrastructure arm, Reliance Infratel. Per the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT), the proceeds from the sale must be deposited in an escrow account until 18 April, pending final ruling on a separate case filed by minority shareholders of Reliance Infratel.

 Japan: MNO license granted to electronics e-commerce firm Rakuten 

A new player will look to compete against NTT Docomo, SoftBank and KDDI in the country, as Rakuten has received approval from the government to expand its business scope as an online retailer. The new entrant has signed an infra-sharing agreement with Kansai Electric Power to access its transmission towers, utility poles, telecommunication towers and other infrastructure, with potentially more utilities partnerships to come. Rakuten is looking to start its mobile offerings in Q3-2018.   

Myanmar: Solar and mini-grids to power towers and communities in rural areas  

Yoma Micro Power has raised $28mn from International Finance Corporation (IFC), Norfund and Yoma Strategic Holdings for its micro power plants and mini grids projects. The company is looking to generate electricity through solar-based micro power plants mainly for telecom towers, while the mini-grids serve surrounding communities. The projects are focused on rural areas of Ayeyarwaddy and Sagaing, Magwe and Mandalay regions.  

The Philippines: OCK signs MoU with Filipino firm for entry into tower market  

Malaysia-based OCK Group Berhad has partnered up with ISOC Infrastructures in a bid to become one of the first towercos in the country, tapping into the proposed common tower policy and entry of a third telco player, as well as the potential divestment of towers by Globe Telecom. As of Q4-2017, OCK had a portfolio of 2,923 towers across Malaysia, Vietnam and Myanmar.  

The Philippines: Local conglomerate eyes expansion into telecommunications  

The Villar Group, founded by business tycoon and former politician Manny Villar, is looking to become the country’s third telco player, alongside incumbents Globe Telecom and PLDT-Smart. The group is looking into opportunities in telecoms, infrastructure and gaming beyond its roots in real estate development.  


Americas news

Argentina: Telefónica plans listing  

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

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. 


Thursday 29th March, 2018

Europe news

Belgium: Court revokes approval for European Aviation Network

Despite Inmarsat’s claims to have completed their European Aviation Network earlier this year, a new challenge to the network may see holes punched in their coverage. Debate about whether their use of ‘complementary ground components’ for the satellite network means the EAN is actually a terrestrial network, and therefore doesn’t fulfil the conditions of a mobile satellite system as defined by European regulations.

The EAN is being challenged in courts across Europe by competitors Viasat and Eutelsat, with mixed results

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. This kind of change throws into question recent rumours that INWIT was about to be brought to market, and opens up the Italian market once again.

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 which may be exercised by 16th April.


MEA news

Kenya: Two consortia apply for 4G licenses

Two consortia, each comprising five companies have applied for 4G licenses in the country. If their applications are successful, they will be given access to spectrum for a trial period of one year before paying US$25mn for the spectrum. The two consortia hope to use the spectrum freed up by Kenya’s migration from analogue to digital TV.

Nigeria: Teleology pays US$50mn deposit for 9mobile

It has been reported that Teleology has paid a US$50mn deposit for 9mobile. Conflicting reports had emerged from Nigeria on who was the winning party in the bidding process, with both Smile Communications and Teleology Holdings being mooted. A statement from Teleology’s CEO, Adrian Wood (the former CEO of MTN Nigeria) announcing that the company expected to have paid off half of the loan due by 9mobile by the time that it was taken over, appears to have put speculation to rest.

South Africa: South Africa to award spectrum by March 2019

The Ministry of Telecommunications has announced that it plans to award spectrum to the country’s MNOs before March 2019. The award of the spectrum has been subject to delays, with MNOs keen to secure additional frequencies to continue the rollout of broadband in the country

Zambia: Unitel secures fourth mobile network license

Angola based Unitel has secured Zambia’s fourth mobile network license, joining market leaders MTN, Airtel and Zamtel in the country. Unitel has pledged to invest over US$350mn in the market.


Asia news

India: Reliance Jio emerges as largest network by base stations

Market disruptor MNO Reliance Jio has expanded to ~448,000 base stations across the country, growing significantly since it entered the market in mid-2016 with 150,000 stations. By comparison, for the same period in March, Bharti Airtel has ~431,000 base stations, while Vodafone follows with ~295,000 and Idea Cellular at ~279,000. Once the merger between Vodafone and Idea goes through, it will result in the largest network, though roughly 60,000 overlapping sites will be shut down.

India: GTL Infrastructure seeks dues and compensation from Aircel

The towerco who had Aircel as its largest customer is seeking to intervene in the MNO’s bankruptcy proceedings, in an attempt to recover Rs400 crore (~US$61.68mn) in rentals owed and compensation for premature contract termination of Rs12,000 crore (~US$1.85bn). Tower rental contracts were to be valid through 2030.

Indonesia: Protelindo adds 1400 towers through KIN acquisition

The country’s largest independent towerco has entered into agreement to acquire PT Komet Infra Nusantara (KIN), marking global private equity firm Providence’s exit. KIN currently owns approximately 1,400 towers and more than 2,000 tenancies. Protelindo owns and operates 14,739 towers as of Q3-2017. Purchase price for the shares is approximately IDR1.4trn (US$101.78mn), subject to adjustments at final close. Protelindo has indicated KIN’s tower portfolio as highly complementary to its existing portfolio. Singapore-based Redpeak Advisers is the financial advisor for the transaction.

Japan: Infra-sharing agreement between Rakuten and Kansai Electric Power

While no towercos exist in the Japanese market, electronic e-commerce firm Rakuten is seeking to leverage the infrastructure of electric utilities across the country as it seeks to enter the MNO space. It has applied for 4G spectrum from the government and pending approval, will look to use Kansai Electric Power’s transmission towers, utility poles, telecommunication towers and other infrastructure to start.


Americas news

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.”

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.


Thursday 15th March 2018

Europe news

Finland: Digita sale in question

The future of Finnish broadcast towerco’s sale process is in doubt after indicative bids fell short of owners First State’s own valuation. The sellers were reportedly looking for a valuation of around €550m (based on an EBITDA of €40m) but received only first round bids of €350-400m. Broadcast tower valuations in Europe have been hard to align recently, with Arqiva in the UK abandoning the sales process in Q417 and French Towercast making little reported progress with the sale of their assets. Rumours of an IPO for Digita remain on the table, but this looks less likely given the size of the company.

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: 5G auctions announced
Agcom, Italy’s telecommunications services regulator, has announced a public consultation for the first Italian 5G spectrum tender. Agcom has proposed making spectrum in the 700 MHz, 3.6-3.8 GHz and 26.5-27.5 GHz bands available by auction in 2018. These proposed concessions will last until 2037 and are expected to raise at least €2.5bn in total proceeds.

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.

UK: 4G and 5G spectrum auction be begin March 20th

The UK telecoms regulator Ofcom has approved six companies to take part in a spectrum auction later this month, allocating the 2.3 GHz band to improving existing mobile services and the 3.4 GHz band to future 5G mobile services. The six companies approved to bid in the auction are EE (BT), O2 (Telefonica), Vodafone, Three (Hutchison 3G UK), Connexin Limited and Airspan Spectrum Holdings.


Americas news

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.

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.

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.


SSA news

Regional: IPOs and M&A in the African tower industry
On 2 March, Helios Towers which owns a portfolio of over 6,500 sites across Tanzania, DRC, Ghana and Congo Brazzaville announced plans to list on the London Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange. On 15 March, announced that in spite of high interest from institutional investors they had decided to not proceed with the listing at this time. Speculation has arisen as to whether the company may merge with Eaton Towers who is also targeting an IPO. Further rumours have emerged as to whether American Tower may make an offer to acquire either party.

Regional: MTN eyes up monetisation of stake in IHS Towers
MTN CFO Ralph Mupita told reporters that its 29% stake in IHS Towers has been earmarked as an asset for sale, adding that it was not strategic to lock up so much capital. IHS Towers is expected to be gearing up for an IPO in the latter part of 2018 and should the share sale go ahead at an appropriate valuation, MTN may look to monetise its stake.

Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen: MTN to exit ‘conflict markets’?
MTN CEO, Rob Shuter hinted in the MNO’s 2017 results presentation that MTN may look to exit markets which are not “self-funding”. The most likely markets to come under review are Afghanistan, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

Nigeria: Smile telecoms outlines rollout plans should it acquire 9mobile
Smile Communications’ Executive Director, Ahmad Farrouk, told reporters that should they acquire 9mobile, Smile plans to rollout an additional 600 base stations within 90 days. The rollout, combined with 9mobile’s existing portfolio of 500 BTS and Smile’s 400 BTS would take 9mobile’s BTS count up to 1500.

South Africa: Atlas Tower passes 500 tower mark in South Africa
The tower count of Atlas Tower, South Africa’s fastest growing towerco has surpassed the 500 site tower mark. Atlas has more than 550 additional tower sites in development in three African Countries and expects to reach 1000 towers in Africa by mid 2020


Asia news

Australia: Government to auction 3.6 GHz band for future 5G rollouts

On 8 March, the Australian government announced that 125 MHz of spectrum in the 3.6 GHz band will be sold at competitive auction, in anticipation of 5G service provisioning. Currently the band is used in the country for fixed satellite service earth stations, point-to-point links and site-based wireless broadband services. The auction is expected to take place in October.

The Philippines: Telco PLDT returns spectrum and waives associated reimbursements

According to the officer-in-chief of the Department of Information and Communications, “PLDT has fully complied with its divestment of 10 Mhz of the 3G radio frequency that was previously assigned with CURE. This frequency is now available to a new major telco player.” PLDT is also waiving its right to be compensated for the return of the spectrum.

The Duterte administration has been keen to introduce a third telecoms provider in the country to increase competition and improve services; PLDT and Globe Telecom are the incumbents.

India: Reliance Infratel asset sale on hold; petitions filed by HSBC Daisy Investments and Ericsson

Debt-laden Reliance Communications’ (RCom) efforts to raise money by selling its wireless assets to Reliance Jio Infomm has been halted by the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT). HSBC Daily Investments (Mauritius) Ltd., who own ~5% stake in RCom’s infrastructure arm Reliance Infratel, filed a petition which resulted in a stay by NCLT.

Back in December, it was announced Jio was the highest bidder for RCom assets of ~43,000 towers, ~178,000km of optic fiber cable network across India, 4G spectrum in the 800, 900, 1800 and 2100 MHz bands, and 248 media convergence nodes. The stay pertains to just tower and fibre assets.

RCom was also previously ordered by court separately to restrain its asset sales due to money owed to Ericsson; the two companies now have one week to work out a settlement for the ~US$177mn insolvency case.

Thursday 1st March 2018

Europe news

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.

Finland: Digita deal draws closer to conclusion

Bidding is underway for Finnish broadcast towerco Digita, with EQT, InfraVia and AMP Capital all linked to the process. It’s rumoured that owners First State Capital haven’t ruled out an IPO for this ambitious towerco, which has been working hard to grow by moving into adjacent verticals such as data centres.

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.


Americas news

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.

Brazil: AT&T eyeing Brazilian 700MHz spectrum

AT&T could bid in the upcoming Brazilian 700MHz spectrum auction. The carrier has been previously reported as a possible buyer of Oi and is a major shareholder in Sky Brasil. The spectrum auction is going to take place in the second half of 2018.


Sub-Saharan Africa news

Angola: Offers starting for fourth mobile license

Offers for Angola’s telecoms license are expected in the coming weeks, with the license covering broadband, fixed line and pay-TV as well as mobile operations. The country currently has two MNOs; Unitel and Movitel with fixed line incumbent, Angola Telecom having been awarded a third license at the end of 2017. The government has been keen to increase competition in the market, with infrastructure sharing being pushed in order to reduce the required investment.

Ghana: Expresso and Glo given 30 day ultimatum to improve operational performance

MNOs Expresso and Glo have been given a 30 day ultimatum by Ghana’s Minister of Communications to improve their poor operational performance or have their licenses revoked. Ghana’s crowded MNO landscape has begun some consolidation in the past year, with Airtel and Tigo merging. Should Glo and Expresso’s licenses be revoked, their spectrum will become available for existing MNOs or a new market entrant

Niger: Orange inks ESCO contract with Camusat’s Aktivco

Orange has signed its second ESCO contract in sub-Saharan Africa, reaching an agreement with Camusat’s Aktivco in Niger. Orange had previously signed a deal with Greenwish Partners in the DRC and has four further live tenders which it expects to award in the first half of 2018. The contract will mark Aktivco’s second ESCO contract, having signed a deal with Millicom in Chad in 2017..


MENA news

Iraq: Major investment in telecommunications to begin

On 14 February, international investors and donors gathering for a summit in Kuwait pledged $30bn towards rebuilding Iraq’s economy and infrastructure with telecommunications a key component of the work ahead. An estimated 25% of Iraq’s towers sustained damage as a result of three years of conflict and major investment is required to rebuild and expand the country’s networks.

Kuwait: Zain tower sale expected to complete in April 2018

Zain’s sale of its 1,600 Kuwaiti towers to IHS Towers is expected to complete in April of this year. When completed, the deal will mark the Middle East’s first tower transaction of scale. Zain Group has also reached an agreement to sell their Saudi Arabian towers to IHS Towers, although the transaction is still awaiting clearance from the regulator.

Qatar: Vodafone Group sells 51% stake in Vodafone Qatar to Qatar Foundation

Vodafone Group has agreed the sale of its 51% stake in Vodafone Qatar to their partner in the entity, Qatar Foundation. The Qatar Foundation acquired the 51% stake for a total cash consideration of QAR1.35bn. The business will continue to operate under the Vodafone brand with Vodafone Group entering into a five-year Partner Market agreement.


Asia news

India: Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers sing different tune on their tower strategies  

While in late 2017 there were talks of Bharti Infratel buying out the Vodafone stakes (42%) in their joint-venture towerco Indus Towers, as well as those of other shareholders (Idea Cellular at 11.15% and Providence at 4.85%), then selling to investors, there appears to be a change in plan. The latest news out of India speaks of a merger between Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers, with an eye to capturing value further down the line, once MNO consolidations shake out and remaining players re-invest in infrastructure to meet data demand.

India: Vodafone and Idea Cellular tower sales to finalise before government approves merger

The merger between MNOs Vodafone and Idea in India is close to getting the final nod from the government, pending the sale of their standalone tower assets to American Tower Corporation (ATC). In addition, Idea has also applied to raise the FDI limit in the company to 100%, which is also pending approval. The standalone towers of Vodafone and Idea to ATC are expected to change hands for a total of Rs 7,850 crore.

Myanmar: New towerco MNTI signs ESCO contract with Voltalia

MNTI, which has been awarded BTS orders with fourth operator MyTel has selected Voltalia, an international player in renewable energies as an energy partner. The agreement covers an initial batch of 171 telecom towers, of which 80% are not connected the national electricity grid. The contract is for 10 years, with Voltalia responsible for power supply to the sites at 2kW each, located in the Bao and Ayeyarwaddy regions of Myanmar.


Wednesday 14th February 2018

Americas news

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).

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.

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.”


SSA news

Namibia: MTC announces plans to rollout 500+ rural towers

Namibia’s leading MNO, MTC has announced that it has plans to rollout 524 new towers in rural areas in a bid to improve coverage as part of the compay’s ‘081 Every1’ project. 40 contractors have been appointed for the project with 17 different companies selected for the supply, delivery and installation of the base stations.

Nigeria: NCC delays sale of 9mobile

The Nigerian Communication Commission has delayed the sale of 9mobile. In spite of conflicting news reports that a winner bidder had been decided upon by 9mobile’s interim board, NCC’s Executive Commissioner for Stakeholder Management told press that the NCC had not yet been notified of a winner. Uncertainty in the process has caused 9mobile’s shareholders to drop from 21mn to 17mn.

Rwanda: Airtel’s acquisition of Tigo Rwanda approved by the regulator

The Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority has approved the acquisition of Tigo Rwanda by Airtel. The acquisition will reduce the number of MNOs in the market from three to two, with Airtel Rwanda leapfrogging MTN to become the country’s largest player.


MENA news

Egypt: Vodafone to provide Telecom Egypt with transmission and infrastructure services

As Egypt’s newest MNO, Telecom Egypt has reached a wholesale agreement with Vodafone to utilise its transmission and infrastructure services for a three year period.

Iran: MCI expands 3G and 4G coverage to all cities

Iran’s leading operator, MCI has expanded both its 3G and 4G networks to bring coverage to all towns and cities in the country. As previously reported by TowerXchange, the operator has formed a towerco with Rightel and Fanasia which will manage the rollout of any new passive infrastructure.

Kuwait and Saudi Arabia: Zain tower deals close to completion

Insiders suggest that IHS Towers’ acquisition of Zain’s towers in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia is close to completion. When completed, the tower transactions will mark the first major tower deal in the Middle East and add a further two markets and 9,376 towers to IHS’ portfolio of 23,382 towers. Read TowerXchange’s interview with IHS’ CEO, Sam Darwish.

Tunisia: Speculation on potential tower sale as Abraaj Investment Fund acquires stake in Tunisie Telecom

Abraaj Group’s acquisition of a 35% stake in Tunisie Telecom from Emirates International Telecommunications (EIT), for a reported US$300mn, is expected to close in mid-February. Once the transaction is completed Tunisie Telecom are reportedly considering the sale of their portfolio of c. 2000 towers in a bid to raise capital.


Asia news

Bangladesh: Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission holds spectrum auction

The February auction in Dhaka is paving way for 4G rollouts in Bangladesh. Market leader Telenor spent US$155mn on the 1800MHz band, while Banglalink picked up both 2100MHz and 1800MHz bands for a total of US$308.6mn. The other two MNOs Robi Axiata and Teletalk did not take part, and will instead rely on their existing spectrum for provision of 4G services. 4G licenses are available to the MNOs at a fee of US$1.2mn. Mobile users are expected to enjoy 4G services in the coming weeks.

China: China Mobile secures new commercial terms with China Tower Corporation

After negotiations and discussions “at arm’s length,” China Mobile’s pricing agreement with CTC has been adjusted in favour of the MNO. Part of the revisions include the cost markup rate dropping to 10% from 15%, as well as tenant discount from 20% to 30% for towers shared by two lessees, and 30% to 40% for three lessees, with the extra 5% discount entitled by the anchor tenant unchanged. The agreement came into effect on January 1, 2018 for a period of five years. This comes at a time when CTC is seeking to IPO and optimise its valuations, while the three MNOs are under pressure to minimise costs; all three MNOs have shares in CTC.

Philippines: MNO Globe Telecom talks tower asset divestment

Since the government announced its intention to introduce a common tower policy in the country, Globe has indicated interest to sell either a portion or all of its tower assets, totaling over 8,000 sites across the Philippines. The money raised will go towards sustaining Globe’s capital expenditure and maintain its consistent dividend policy according to CEO Ernest Cu. The Philippines is under-served with ~17,000 towers to 100mn people, with an estimated 50,000 more required to put it on par to some of its counterparts in the region. Presidential Adviser on Economic Affairs and ICT Ramon P. Jacinto has been quoted saying at least two to three towercos could play a role in the future rollouts.


Europe news

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.

Pan-Europe – 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.

United Kingdom – 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.


News archive

Thursday 17 January 2018

Europe news

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.

Spain: Cellnex announces initial price for bond issue 

Cellnex has announced that its €600mn convertible bonds issue has been priced at €38.0829, a premium of 70% over the volume weighted average price of a share on the Spanish Stock Exchange at today’s rates. This issuance is the first since the company floated in May 2015, and should allow Cellnex to increase debt maturity up to 6.4 years and bring the average cost of borrowing to 2.2%. With its liquidity position standing at €2bn following the issuance, Cellnex will be in a strong position to bid for upcoming tower sales in Europe.

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.


Americas news 

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.

Brazil: Oi to exit bankruptcy protection following creditors’ vote

Oi’s creditors have approved a plan to remove the operator from bankruptcy protection. The plan includes a proposal to repay the fines that Oi owes to Anatel in five years and after a 20-year grace period. Additional fines owed by Oi under the attorney general’s jurisdiction would be paid over a 20-year timeframe. In spite of Anatel and the attorney general both voting against the plan, the amendments to the proposal were approved.

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.

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: Red Compartida to exceed its Q1 2018 target

ALTÁN Redes’ Red Compartida is likely to exceed its March 2018 target to cover 30% of the population with 4G services. The network should be covering 33-35% of the population by end of Q1 and could surpass 50% by the end of 2018. The undersecretary of communications Edgar Olvera has revealed to El Economista that ALTÁN Redes has already rolled out 2,500 mobile sites.

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.


MEA news

Angola: Tender specifications published for new telecoms operator license

The Angolan Institute of Communications (INACOM) has published tender specifications for applications for the new telecoms operator license covering fixed, mobile and TV. The process opened for applications on 8 January with a 27 February deadline for submissions. The new licensee is set to challenge Unitel and Movitel in the market as well as fixed-line Angola Telecom which expects to become the country’s third MNO in 2018. ANTOSC is the country’s first towerco who will be ideally positioned to play a role in the network rollout, with TowerXchange being made aware of at least one other towerco in the process of applying for a license.

Bahrain: Regulator outlines new framework to promote tower sharing

Bahrain’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has outlined a new regulatory framework to encourage passive infrastructure sharing in the Kingdom. The government was previously reported to be looking to rationalise the country’s 1500 sites down to a core network of 400, addressing environmental and aesthetic concerns raised by the towers. The TRA is now developing an automated system through which to process applications for new towers.

Nigeria: Deadline reached for 9mobile takeover bids

After having been postponed, the 16 January deadline for bids to acquire 9mobile has now passed. Various names have been linked with the acquisition with the latest reports suggesting the process was down to five bidders; Airtel, Globacom, Smile, Helios Investment Partners and Teology Holdings. 9mobile is the former Etisalat Nigeria which was taken over by its lenders after defaulting on a US$1.2bn loan. Barclays had been appointed to oversee the sale of the business.

Nigeria: Hotspot Network seeks new financing

Nigerian towerco, Hotspot Network is looking to raise US$15mn in new financing in order to build 400 new towers in the country. In 2017, the towerco sold 85 of its portfolio of 160 sites to IHS Towers for an undisclosed sum. Hotspot has recently signed an agreement with MTN to provide in-building solutions and cells on wheels.

Nigeria: MTN assigns US$231mn shareholder loan to IHS and improves commercial terms for network expansion

MTN, which has a 29% share in IHS Towers, has recently assigned a US$231mn shareholder loan to the towerco in order to facilitate more cost effective network investment in Nigeria. The operator has renegotiated terms with IHS for network expansion projects with volume based commercial terms agreed.

Rwanda: Airtel to acquire Tigo Rwanda

Airtel has reached an agreement to acquire 100% equity interest in Millicom’s Rwandan operations, Tigo Rwanda. The move will position Airtel Rwanda as the country’s number two MNO behind MTN once the transaction has been approved by regulators. The two MNOs had previously agreed to merge their Ghanaian operations, with Millicom also in the process of selling its Senegalese opco to a consortium involving NJJ, Sofima and Teliyom Group and looking for buyers for its operations in Chad and Tanzania (in which Econet have expressed an interest).


Asia news

Regional: edotco Group financials disclosed; revenue up while net profit down year-on-year

As Asia’s largest pan-regional towerco, edotco experienced positive revenue growth from RM1.03bn to RM1.13bn for the third quarter ending 2017 (just under 10% YoY). Net profit however was down from RM196mn to RM152mn, mostly attributed to changes in forex given its multi-country operations. Tenancy ratio for the group averaged 1.5, while in its home country of Malaysia, the towerco enjoys a ratio of 1.6. In the interview with The Edge Financial Daily, CEO Suresh Sidhu notes the company remains open to opportunities for inorganic growth in Malaysia, however, will stay disciplined in its approach. In Malaysia, edotco currently has less than 20% of market share.

Bangladesh: BTRC schedules 4G spectrum auction for February

The Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission has put forth guidelines for the country’s 4G license, with the latest stipulating network deployment within three years and speed of 20 mbps. The license is valid for 15-years, with an annual fee of Tk 5 crore and initial one-time fee of Tk 10 crore. Operators will be able to bid on the 2100 MHz, 1800 MHz and 900MHz bands. To date, BTRC has received applications from Grameenphone, Banglalink, Robi Axiata and state-owned Teletalk, as well as defunct Citycell. The auction is expected to take place on 13 February.

Sri Lanka: edotco unveils ‘Smart Lamp Pole’ initiative in Sri Lanka

Keeping with its commitment to bolstering the country’s telecom and energy sectors, edotco has introduced Smart City solutions in Colombo, Sri Lanka. To meet aesthetics requirements in urban settings, the solutions are sleek, camouflaged, green and blend well with town-planning for modern cities. The smart urban connectivity systems also have integrated advertising space, environmental information sources, smart street lighting, smart parking and even flood monitoring systems. “The ‘Smart Lamp Pole’ is an energy efficient telecoms infrastructure solution which will benefit cities and communities around the country. As a company with regional experience in infrastructure deployment and management, and a member of the local business community, we believe it’s our responsibility to contribute our resources and expertise to add value to the country,” said CEO Suresh Sidhu.

Myanmar: OCK Group’s operations in Myanmar bearing fruit 

To date OCK has delivered ~650 of the initial order of 920 towers from Telenor Myanmar. Tower rental revenue contributed ~RM30.6mn to the group’s revenue for the first nine months of 2017. In addition, it has secured incumbent Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT) as a second tenant on ~180 towers, with 15-year agreements denominated in US dollars. Further opportunities for BTS and tenancy growth is also on the horizon as fourth operator Mytel ups the ante on its network rollout to begin service soon. Malaysia-based OCK is Asia’s second multi-country towerco, with presence in Malaysia, Myanmar, Vietnam and a tower management arm in Indonesia.

India: Reliance Jio to acquire wireless assets of Reliance Communications for estimated US$3.75bn

In late December, it was announced that Mukesh Ambani-led Jio will purchase the telecom assets of RCom, owned by his brother Mukesh Ambani. This includes ~43,000 towers, ~178,000km of optic fiber cable network across India, 4G spectrum in the 800, 900, 1800 and 2100MHz bands, and 248 media convergence nodes. RCom had sought to pare down its debt, totaling 45,000 crore, through asset monetization, with American Tower as a leading prospective buyer at one point. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018, subject to approvals.


News archive

Thursday 14 December 2017

Asia news

India: American Tower seals Idea-Vodafone tower deal

Vodafone and Idea Cellular agreed to sell their tower portfolios to American Tower for a combined value of around US$1.2bn. Idea’s portfolio include 8,886 sites with a tenancy ratio of 1.7 (or 15,418 tenants) while Vodafone’s comprises 10,926 towers with a tenancy ratio of 1.5 (15,846 tenants). However, following the merger around 6,300 co-located tenancies of the two MNOs will become single tenancies over a two-year timeframe, as noted in a statement published by the two operators. The collapse in tenancies won’t entail any exit penalty. The transaction should be completed within H2 2018.

India: American Tower seals Idea-Vodafone tower deal

Vodafone and Idea Cellular agreed to sell their tower portfolios to American Tower for a combined value of around US$1.2bn. Idea’s portfolio include 8,886 sites with a tenancy ratio of 1.7 (or 15,418 tenants) while Vodafone’s comprises 10,926 towers with a tenancy ratio of 1.5 (15,846 tenants). However, following the merger around 6,300 co-located tenancies of the two MNOs will become single tenancies over a two-year timeframe, as noted in a statement published by the two operators. The reduction in tenancies won’t entail any exit penalty. The transaction should be completed in H2 2018.

India: American Tower keen to acquire more

In an interview in the Economic Times of India, American Tower Chairman and CEO James D. Taicet has confirmed the towerco’s interest in further investment in the Indian market in the wake of their Idea-Vodafone tower deal. While their immediate focus is on integrating the ~20,000 towers acquired in their most recent transaction, American Tower continues to scout for assets which will meet its ROI requirements in India, and that the current phase of rapid consolidation in the market would accelerate as 4G rollout puts pressure on Indian MNOs’ capital spending.

India: Brookfield – Reliance Communications deal stalls

The deal between the investment firm and the telecom giant for the sale of a 51% stake in Reliance Infratel is not going ahead. The fall through of the transaction follows the announcement of the failed merger between Reliance Communication and Aircel and the subsequent cessation in trading of Reliance’s Wireless business.

Nepal: Interest builds in Nepalese infrastructure provider licenses

The Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has taken a step forward in promoting infrastructure sharing by opening licences for infrastructure provision in Nepal. Both domestic and foreign companies have been invited to bid, with the NTA planning to award licences to two firms initially. The announcement has been greeted with interest from the international tower community, many of whom are keen to explore the opportunities to enter this small but significant market.

India: Bharti Airtel sells stake in Bharti Infratel

Bharti Airtel sold 83mn shares of Bharti Infratel via Nettle Infrastructure Investments and raised US$510mn. The secondary share sale is being used to reduce the company’s debt. Following the sale, Bharti Airtel and its subsidiaries own 53.51% of Bharti Infratel.

India: Bharti Infratel Chairman calls for independent netcos to manage infrastructure

Akhil Gupta, Chairman of Bharti Infratel, has stated that indian MNOs should be pooling active networks together to create more efficient operations, as well as sharing passive infrastructure to free up investment for 5G rollout.

“I believe that the end game, if we have to provide affordable services all across the country, would be formation of netcos, where the network companies can produce the capacities, give it to operators without discrimination, the only exception being the quantum they consume, and slots they take,” said Gupta, who was speaking at the 5G Congress

Bangladesh: edotco deploying wind and solar at 500 sites in Bangladesh

Through its “Tower to Power” initiative, edotco Bangladesh distributes excess electricity from its tower sites to the community for free. edotco’s use of renewable energy and green technology has helped to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations by 20%.

China: China Tower Corporation IPO delayed to Q1 2018

Originally hoping for a year-end listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, CTC’s IPO process has been delayed until Q118. With previous GM Liu Aili reassigned to China Mobile in late September (he subsequently resigned and is now at China Telecom), CTC has yet to officially announce its new leadership.

Malaysia: edotco Malaysia partners with Telekom Malaysia to expand LTE services

Telekom Malaysia (TM) will provide backhaul services for the connectivity between mobile operator’s cell sites and their core network at edotco’s identified ground-based tower sites in selected areas. TM and edotco Malaysia will also explore opportunities to provide common infrastructure via Smart Centralised Radio Access Network (Smart CRAN) Services.

Indonesia: STP and Centratama refinancing in Indonesia

Indonesia’s fourth largest towerco STP continues to explore refinancing options as investors Southern Capital and Carlyle Group seek to exit. Meanwhile, CTBC Bank and Standard Chartered have reportedly been mandated by Indonesia’s ninth largest towerco Centratama Menara to raise an initial US$195mn syndicated loan to finance M&A.


Europe News

Finland: Digita for sale

Broadcast towerco Digita operates 556 towers in Finland and was acquired from France’s TDF Group by First State Investments in 2012. Digita is believed to be among several European broadcast assets currently looking for a buyer. Read TowerXchange’s interview with Digita CEO, Juha-Pekka Weckström

France: Towercast sale could prove influential in the French market

French media group NRJ has announced its intention to sell broadcast towerco Towercast, a competitor to TDF, which offers DTT and FM broadcast services via 500 sites across France. Declaring that Towercast isn’t a ‘fit’ with NRJ’s core business, it’s believed NRJ hopes to raise up to €300mn from the sale. Likely to attract a buyer with broadcast experience, both TDF and Cellnex may well be interested in these assets, which would allow them to consolidate in a very competitive market.

Portugal and France: Altice preparing to sell towers

Altice, owner of French MNO SFR and Portugal Telecom, has signalled its intention to pay down debt through the sale of assets, including telecoms towers. With Portugal high on Cellnex’s target list and Cellnex, TDF and ATC Europe all vying for market share in France, there will undoubtedly be significant interest in these assets.


Americas News

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.

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.

USA: Tillman agrees unique deal with AT&T and Verizon in US

Tillman Infrastructure has entered into a joint agreement with AT&T and Verizon to build hundreds of towers in the USA, with the potential for significantly more in future. In a build to suit deal with both AT&T and Verizon, the MNOs have committed to leasing and co-anchoring the towers, which are planned to fulfil the need for new locations in under-served areas as well as reducing some parallel infrastructure. Construction is due to begin in Q118.

Brazil: SBA Communications received regulatory approval to acquire 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. No further details about the deal have been revealed.

El Salvador: Millicom seeks to monetise towers in El Salvador

Millicom’s balance sheet restructuring continues as they explore options to monetise an estimated 400 towers in El Salvador, where SBA Communications and Phoenix Tower International are likely to be prospective bidders.


MEA News

Cameroon: Afrimax closes Vodafone-branded group

Saudi Arabia: Regional funds plan to co-invest with IHS in Zain tower purchase

Having reached an agreement earlier in the month to sell their Kuwaiti sites to IHS and Towershare for $165mn, talks are reportedly close to reaching a conclusion between the parties regarding Zain’s 8,000 Saudi Arabian sites. Several regional funds have been linked as potential co-investors, with each readying proposals of US$100mn upwards for the tower purchase. The portfolio is expected to fetch a valuation of around $750mn with MNO expected to sell 100% equity in the towers. Citi is running the process.

Kenya: Market awaits news of Telkom Kenya tower sale

After having launched a process earlier this year to sell their portfolio of ~1,000 sites in the country, Telkom Kenya are in the process of evaluating bids with both Eaton Towers and American Tower thought to still be in the running. Eaton has a portfolio of 1,200 sites in the country after having acquired Airtel’s portfolio. Dominant market player, Safaricom, have the country’s largest tower portfolio.

Kuwait: IHS Towers and Towershare reach an agreement to acquire Zain’s 1,600 towers

On 10 October it was announced that Zain had entered into an agreement to sell and leaseback its 1,600 Kuwaiti towers to IHS Towers, in partnership with Towershare, for US$165mn. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2018 and upon completion will mark the Middle East’s first tower transaction of scale. Zain has retained a non-controlling minority stake in the venture.

Nigeria: Barclays pulls out of 9mobile sale process

After having been appointed as financial advisor to run the sale of 9mobile, Barclays has reportedly stood down from its position after questioning from the Central Bank of Nigeria on the transparency of the bidding process. 16 expressions of interest had been received by the bank, with 10 parties reported to have been progressed through the the prequalified bidder phase. Barclays withdrawal would require the sale process to be restarted from scratch.

Tanzania: Vodacom Tanzania sells its stake in Helios Towers Tanzania

Vodacom Tanzania has sold its 24.06% equity stake in Helios Towers Tanzania to HTT’s parent company, Helios Towers Africa. The stake, valued at $85.5mn was acquired during Vodacom’s sale of its tower portfolio to Helios back in 2013. Vodacom had previously sold 100% equity in its 1,149 towers to Helios for $75mn, but as part of the terms of the transaction, acquired a 24.06% stake in the company’s Tanzanian opco. According to Vodacom Tanzania’s Managing Director, Ian Ferrao, the transaction will free up capital to further enhance Vodacom’s Tanzania’s balance sheet and strategic operations. Vodacom’s relationship with Helios will be unaffected by the sale. The acquisition of the stake by Helios Towers Africa further simplifies the towercos ownership structure as they head towards a likely IPO in early 2018.

Regional: Millicom’s plans to exit Africa advance as Ghana merger completes and sale discussions with Econet Wireless progress

In Ghana, Millicom has completed the merger of its local business with Airtel, whilst the company has entered into advanced discussions with Econet Wireless regarding the sale of its remaining opcos in Tanzania, Rwanda and Chad, with the sale expected to raise close to $1bn. Millicom had previously sold its DRC operations to Orange and has reached an agreement to sell its Senegalese opco to a consortium involving NJJ, Sofiman and Teyliom Group. Millicom has had a challenging time in the African market and with the region’s revenue representing less than 10% of total group revenues, the exit from Africa will enable the operator to focus on its more successful Latin American markets.

Regional: African towerco IPO speculation steps up

It has been reported that Africa’s three largest privately held towercos, Eaton Towers, Helios Towers Africa and IHS Towers have appointed banks to run their respective IPO processes. Whilst the towercos have shied away from confirming such developments, a H1 2018 listing is widely expected, with Eaton Towers being tipped as the first expected to IPO, followed by Helios. Eaton and Helios are thought to favour the LSE, targeting valuations around US$2bn, while IHS is thought to prefer the NYSE, and may seek a valuation above US$10bn. Whilst IPOs look like the likely route, a strategic acquisition could represent an alternative exit for the towercos’ investors, with American Tower the most likely acquirer.

Angola: Vodafone to bid for fourth mobile license?

Local sources suggest that Vodafone is positioning itself to bid for a fourth mobile license in Angola. A fourth licensee would join both Unitel and Movical as well as Angola Telecom who was awarded the country’s third MNO license earlier this year and expects to launch mobile services in early 2018/

Regional: Orange signs another ESCO agreement

Having entered into an agreement with GreenWish Partners to put their DRC sites under an ESCO arrangement, Orange has reportedly reached an agreement in at least one further African market as the operator continues on its path to outsourcing the energy element on sites.

 



News archive

Thursday 2 November 2017

Asia news

Bangladesh: edotco deploying wind and solar at 500 sites in Bangladesh

Through its “Tower to Power” initiative, edotco Bangladesh distributes excess electricity from its tower sites to the community for free. edotco’s use of renewable energy and green technology has helped to reduce the carbon footprint of its operations by 20%.

China: China Tower Corporation IPO likely delayed to Q1 2018

Originally hoping for a year-end listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, CTC’s IPO process has stalled. With previous GM Liu Aili reassigned to China Mobile in late September (he subsequently resigned and is now at China Telecom), CTC has yet to officially announce its new leadership.

India: Brookfield – Reliance Communications deal stalls

The deal between the investment firm and the telecom giant for the sale of a 51% stake in Reliance Infratel is not going ahead, according to various Indian news outlets. The fall through of the transaction follows the announcement of the failed merger between Reliance Communication and Aircel.

India: American Tower snatches Vodafone-Idea’s towers

American Tower has emerged as the preferred candidate ahead of Brookfield Asset Management and IDFC Project Equity for the acquisition of the Vodafone-Idea 19,812 sites for an estimated US$1bn. Idea’s 8,886 towers have a tenancy ratio of 1.7 with 15,418 tenants and Vodafone’s 10,926 towers a tenancy ratio of 1.5 with 15,846 tenants.

India: Bharti Airtel to take over Tata’s wireless operations

Tata Teleservices announced its intention to exit the wireless market after years of falling subscribers and market share. Bharti Airtel has agreed to a cash-free and debt-free deal, exception made for some of Tata’s unpaid spectrum liabilities. The transaction is still subject to regulatory approval and will entail the takeover of operations in nineteen circles.

India: Idea’s shareholders approve merger

On October 12, Idea Cellular’s shareholders have given the green light to the merger scheme with Vodafone. The two MNOs need to receive the approval of the Department of Telecom which is the final step towards the creation of the largest MNO in India, with over 35% market share and a valuation around US$23bn.

India: BSNL and MTNL to study possible merger

While still in the news for their intentions to monetise their respective tower portfolios, BSNL and MNTL have been quoted by Indian news outlets as considering a possible merger. BSNL has received the green light to carve out its 65,000 sites into a separate entity while MTNL is assessing the divestment of its 10,000 towers.

India: KKR-led consortium eyes Indus Towers and Bharti Infratel

A consortium led by KKR and formed by the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and GIC Singapore is considering a US$11bn transaction to acquire Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers. The proposed combined entity would run over 162,000 towers in India and become the second largest towerco in the world behind China Tower Corporation.

India: Reliance Communications to shut down 2G operations

The debt-ridden MNO is planning to shut down its 2G operations before the end of November and will continue to run its 3G and 4G services until they remain profitable, as reported by several Indian news outlets. The move comes after the collapse of the merger with Aircel, a merger planned to save both companies from piling debts and falling market share.

Malaysia: edotco Malaysia partners with Telekom Malaysia to expand LTE services

Telekom Malaysia (TM) will provide backhaul services for the connectivity between mobile operator’s cell sites and their core network at edotco’s identified ground-based tower sites in selected areas. TM and edotco Malaysia will also explore opportunities to provide common infrastructure via Smart Centralised Radio Access Network (Smart CRAN) Services.


Europe News

CIS: VEON pulls tower sales in CIS 

Following the cancellation of their Russian process in May, TowerXchange understands that VEON has also abandoned the sale of their passive assets in Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. It is as yet unknown whether the operator has other plans for the infrastructure in these countries.

Finland

Broadcast towerco, Digita, operates 556 towers in Finland and was acquired from France’s TDF Group by First State Investments in 2012. Digita is believed to be among several European broadcast asset owners looking for a buyer in 2017. Read TowerXchange’s interview with Digita CEO, Juha-Pekka Weckström

Netherlands: Cellnex has acquired Dutch broadcast towerco Alticom for €133mn

With just 30 high-rise sites across the country, the valuation for this portfolio has raised eyebrows, but Cellnex claim the long range assets (with good fibre connectivity) will prove critical in delivering low latency 5G networks, as well as consolidating their position in the Dutch market. Alticom’s customers include all the telecommunication and broadcast operators in the Netherlands, with whom it has contracts ranging from 5 to 10 years. The deal increases Cellnex’s tower count in The Netherlands to 788 and globally to 24,664.

UK: Sale off the table as Arqiva announces IPO 

UK infrastructure giant Arqiva, owned by a consortium including the Australian investment bank Macquarie and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is looking for a valuation of £6bn when they float on the London Stock Exchange in November. Complications surrounding Arqiva’s £3bn debt pile were thought to have made a sale look more appealing, but it’s believed that talks with the last remaining bidder, a consortium led by investor Brookfield, ended last week. Read more

Germany, Spain & CALA: Telefónica finalises first tranche of KKR deal

Telefónica has finalised the transfer of a 24.8% stake in Telxius to U.S. fund KKR for a total value of €790,5mn. The deal follows the announcement made by Telefónica in February regarding the agreement with KKR for the transfer of a stake up to 40% in Telxius (valued at €1.27bn). The remaining 15.2% should be transferred before the end of 2017.


Americas News

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.

Canada: Canadian 3C Information Solutions acquires Advantage Tower

3C Information Solutions Inc., a Canadian system integrator, announced the acquisition of Advantage Tower Ltd, a leading tower construction company based out of Calgary. 3C Information Solutions is a provider of IT solutions for rural and remote locations.

Mexico: Canadian Tower One to acquire Mexican towerco

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, includes a master lease agreement with AT&T.

Mexico: American Tower negotiates with Mexican fibre firm

American Tower is eyeing the acquisition of Mexican infrastructure firm KIO Networks for an approximate US$500mn. If finalised, the deal will grant American Tower over 4,300km of fibre-optic cable.


MEA News

Regional: Millicom’s plans to exit Africa advance as Ghana merger completes and sale discussions with Econet Wireless progress

In Ghana, Millicom has completed the merger of its local business with Airtel, whilst the company has entered into advanced discussions with Econet Wireless regarding the sale of its remaining opcos in Tanzania, Rwanda and Chad, with the sale expected to raise close to $1bn. Millicom had previously sold its DRC operations to Orange and has reached an agreement to sell its Senegalese opco to a consortium involving NJJ, Sofiman and Teyliom Group. Millicom has had a challenging time in the African market and with the region’s revenue representing less than 10% of total group revenues, the exit from Africa will enable the operator to focus on its more successful Latin American markets.

Regional: African towerco IPO speculation steps up

It has been reported that Africa’s three largest privately held towercos, Eaton Towers, Helios Towers Africa and IHS Towers have appointed banks to run their respective IPO processes. Whilst the towercos have shied away from confirming such developments, a H1 2018 listing is widely expected, with Eaton Towers being tipped as the first expected to IPO, followed by Helios. Whilst IPOs look like the likely route, a strategic acquisition could represent an alternative exit for the towercos’ investors, with American Tower the most likely acquirer.

MENA: Omantel further increases its stake in Zain Group

Omantel has agreed the purchase a further 12.1% stake in Kuwaiti headquartered Zain Group, taking Omantel’s stake in the operator up to 21.9% The share acquisition puts Omantel as Zain Group’s second largest shareholder, behind the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Kuwait Investment Authority, which has a 24.6% stake.

Oman: Third Omani MNO license to go to a local consortium 

After having received bids from Etisalat, Saudi Telecom Company and Zain, Oman’s Telecom Regulatory Authority has rejected such bids in favour of awarding the the Sultanate’s third mobile license to an as yet unnamed local consortium. The decision is understood to be part of a move to “enhance the role of local investment funds and enable them to contribute to the growth of the national economy.” The new operator will compete with Omantel and Ooredoo in the country.

Nigeria: 9mobile’s lenders appoint Barclays to find new investors; 16 expressions of interest received

The lenders of 9mobile, formerly Etisalat Nigeria, have appointed Barclays to find new investors for the embattled MNO. 16 expressions of interest have reportedly been received for the opco which had 18mn subscribers as the end of June 2017. Parties know to have submitted EOIs include operators MTN, Airtel, Ntel, Africell and Viettel. Further EOIs have been received from Blackstone Private Equity; Bua Group; Morning Side Capital Partners; Teo-ology Holdings; Obot Etiebet & Co; De-elim Services Limited; AB-Bro Limited; Hamilton; and George International Limited. Both Vodacom and Virgin Mobile had been linked with a potential interest in 9mobile earlier in the year, but have not appeared on the recent list of interested parties. Read TowerXchange’s September analysis of the Nigerian tower industry

Saudi Arabia: Announcement regarding Zain tower sale expected imminently

Having reached an agreement earlier in the month to sell their Kuwaiti sites to IHS and Towershare for $165mn, talks are reportedly close to reaching a conclusion between the parties regarding Zain’s 8,000 Saudi Arabian sites. The deal will mark the Middle East’s second tower transaction of scale and add a seventh country to IHS’ growing portfolio. Read TowerXchange’s analysis of Zain’s Kuwaiti tower sale

Tanzania: Vodacom Tanzania sells its stake in Helios Towers Tanzania

Vodacom Tanzania has sold its 24.06% equity stake in Helios Towers Tanzania to HTT’s parent company, Helios Towers Africa. The stake, valued at $85.5mn was acquired during Vodacom’s sale of its tower portfolio to Helios back in 2013. Vodacom had previously sold 100% equity in its 1,149 towers to Helios for $75mn, but as part of the terms of the transaction, acquired a 24.06% stake in the company’s Tanzanian opco. According to Vodacom Tanzania’s Managing Director, Ian Ferrao, the transaction will up capital to further enhance Vodacom’s Tanzania’s balance sheet and strategic operations. Vodacom’s relationship with Helios will be unaffected by the sale. The acquisition of the stake by Helios Towers Africa further simplifies the towercos ownership structure as they head towards a likely IPO in early 2018.


 

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