Global tower industry news

TowerXchange's bimonthly industry news roundup

Thursday 17 January 2019

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 regulator 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 Salavador, 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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