Read this article to learn:
- Who’s who of the top towercos active in China, Southern and Southeast Asia
- The history of MNOs’ tower transactions across the region
- An introduction to some of the most credible current and prospective investors into Asia towers
- Profiles of the TMT advisory firms with experience of Asian tower transactions
Aird Towers: Towerco established in 2016 with a formal launch in early 2017 to serve the Australian and New Zealand markets. It is looking beyond ground-based towers and rooftops to consider small cell and other RAN solutions to support the rollout of 4G and, in future, 5G.
Alcazar Capital: Alcazar Capital Limited (ACL) is an investment advisory firm based in Dubai and focused on private investments advisory and asset management; Alcazar’s current portfolio of investments and assets under management exceeds US$1bn. ACL advised on several projects in the tower industry including Irrawaddy Green Towers in Myanmar and Golden Towers in Vietnam.
Altman Vilandrie & Co: AV&Co. has extensive tower industry experience spanning tens of engagements (including Latin America, Africa, Asia, North America, Europe) over ten years, including tower operator strategies as well as tower transaction due diligences. Their recent work has addressed a number of relevant topics such as the impact of small cells, the future opportunity for DAS and the changing role of rooftops.
American Tower: The world’s largest independent commercial towerco, American Tower need no introduction within this publication. With its headquarters in the U.S., American Tower operates a global portfolio of ~150,000 sites composed of towers in advanced, evolving and developing wireless markets, in the U.S., Central and South America, Africa, Europe, and Asia with its growing presence in India.
American Tower has combined organic with selective inorganic growth in Asia, where to date they have focused on India. The company’s M&A activity in India began with the acquisition of 1,730 towers from XCEL Telecom for US$170mn in 2009, continued with the acquisition of 4,450 towers from Essar Telecom for US$432mn in 2010, and culminated in the acquisition of Viom Networks and their 42,200 towers, announced in October 2015, for US$1.17bn, taking a 51% stake in the company. The deal provided American Tower Corporation an all-India footprint and a portfolio of over 57,000 towers, to which they are rumored to be in negotiations to add a further 19,812 towers from Vodafone India and Idea Cellular, driving the company to scale in India, and enabling them to look for new investment opportunities in other markets across Asia.
American Tower employs a three-pronged approach to evaluating potential international acquisitions: identifying relatively stable political and macroeconomic environments, seeking markets with robust wireless sectors, and finally pinpointing compelling transactions opportunities including a high quality counter-party, good location, sound assets, and an attractive valuation.
Analysys Mason: Marco Cordoni and his team at Analysys Mason are among the ‘go-to-guys’ for tower market analysis and due diligence on a global basis.
Apollo Towers Myanmar: Apollo Towers runs a portfolio of 1,800 sites in Myanmar. Apollo Towers is chaired by serial towerco entrepreneur Sanjiv Ahuja, who was the original Chairman of Eaton Towers in Africa and who is a former CEO of Orange. Ahuja’s Tillman Global Holdings and Texas Pacific Group are the majority shareholders of Apollo Towers Myanmar, while OPIC (the Overseas Private Investment Corporation) undertook the single largest U.S. direct investment in Myanmar when they invested US$250mn in Apollo. Apollo provides a ‘full service’ tower and power offering.
Ascend Telecom: Incorporated in 2002, Ascend Telecom is an independent Indian towerco providing world-class passive telecom infrastructure on a shared, multi-tenancy basis for the mobile services and wireless sector. Ascend Telecom provides site location, design, execution and maintenance of infrastructure for telecom network operators, and is the first Indian company to offer sites with complete passive infrastructure to MNOs, on build-own-lease model (BOL) basis. As at 30 August 2017, Ascend’s portfolio included 5,645 towers at a tenancy ratio of 2.04.
Axiata Group: Axiata is a leading telecommunications group in Asia and has controlling interests in six mobile operators under the brand names of Celcom in Malaysia, XL in Indonesia, Dialog in Sri Lanka, Robi in Bangladesh, Smart in Cambodia and Ncell in Nepal. Axiata also has strategic interests in Indian’s Idea and M1 in Singapore. Axiata carved out the first pan-regional towerco, edotco, which operates in six countries to provide optimised, shared telecoms infrastructure, amassing a portfolio of over 31,000 towers and 12,000 km of fibre.
Axicom: Axicom is Australia’s leading provider of independently owned wireless infrastructure. The company owns, operates and manages a portfolio of approximately 1,900 towers in Australia. Crown Castle’s Australian subsidiary was renamed Axicom following the U.S. towerco’s sale of the business for US$1.6bn to a consortium including Macquarie Infrastructure and Real Assets, UniSuper and UBS Global Asset Management. In early 2017 Axicom acquired 56 communications towers from broadcaster Southern Cross Austereo for A$12.6mn (US$9.25mn) to expand its footprint.
Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission: BTRC was formed on 31st January of 2002, under the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Act 2001. Its vision is to facilitate connecting the unconnected through quality telecommunication services at an affordable price by introducing new technologies. BTRC has been working on tower sharing guidelines (including a licensing regime), with a draft submitted for final government approval. Additional guidelines in the works include 4G rollout and associated fees.
Barclays: Barclays’ global investment banking division offers a leading Technology, Media and Telecoms (TMT) franchise. The TMT team has significant experience representing leading tower operators as well as telecom service providers around the globe on buy and sell side assignments. In this capacity, Barclays has supported its clients in the valuation and/or marketing of tower portfolios as well as the negotiation of various agreements associated with these transactions.
Balitower: Founded in 2006, PT Bali Towerindo Sentra Tbk is a telecommunication tower company that originated in the Indonesian province of Bali. Balitower was listed on the stock market in 2013, and in 2015 began to expand its footprint outside of Bali, mostly through its partnership with the government of Jakarta, managing the CCTV system in return for rights to exploit the poles as small cell locations. Through year end 2016, its portfolio consisted of 856 light poles (MCPs), 72 monopoles and 112 self-supporting towers (SSTs).
Beijing Miteno Communication Technology: One of China’s leading independent towercos with an estimated 4,500 towers. Miteno also has international ambitions and is an active bidder on tower transactions in Southeast Asia. The company is also a leading tower designer and manufacturer.
Beijing RLZY: Beijing Rui Lan Zuo Yue Technology began operations as a service provider to the three MNOs in China back in the early 2000s, before expanding its business to include tower leasing. It currently has 1000+ assets in its portfolio, which includes a mix of monopoles/towers, rooftops and streetlights.
Berkshire Partners: Berkshire was an early investor in Crown Castle, and currently has active investments in Protelindo (the largest towerco in Indonesia), Torres Unidas (in the Andean region of CALA) and Tower Development Corporation in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
Bharti Airtel: Bharti Airtel is an Indian mobile network operator, and ranks as one of the top four MNOs globally with operations across 20 countries in Africa and Asia. In India, Bharti Airtel carved out its own towerco, Bharti Infratel, and is a partner in the Indus Towers joint venture towerco. Bharti Airtel initially followed a similar strategy in Africa, creating “Africa Towers” subsidiaries in several countries, before subsequently selling towers in the majority of countries to a variety of African towercos.
Over the summer, Airtel received approval to purchase the assets of Telenor India, then in Q3 2017 announced it will pick up Tata’s mobile business, leading to a merger of three MNOs, allowing Airtel to consolidate a strong number two position when the Vodafone-Idea mega-merger concludes.
Bharti Infratel: One of the pioneers of shared telecoms infrastructure, Bharti Infratel was created in 2007 as an independent tower company to provide compelling capex saving opportunities to telecom service providers, while optimally utilising Bharti Airtel’s large tower base in India.
Infratel has 39,000+ towers, across eighteen states, and eleven telecom circles, and is still growing. Bharti Infratel also manages Bharti Airtel’s 42% stake in Indus Towers which was created as a joint venture between Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and Aditya Birla Telecom to hive off the towers business in fifteen telecom circles.
Bharti Infratel’s goal is the “disarmament of MNOs”; the creation of end-to-end tower solutions including fibre, small cells and active equipment, and supporting the continued development of telecoms across India, including the creation of smart cities.
There are currently rumors of a proposed major investment in a combined Bharti Infratel-Indus Towers entity by a KKR-led consortium, with the transaction believed to require Bharti Infratel to first buy out the 58% of Indus Towers held by others (Idea, Providence Equity Partners and Vodafone) and then KKR to increase its interest in Bharti Infratel from 10% to around 45%.
Broadcast Australia: Broadcast Australia owns and operates one of the most extensive terrestrial broadcast transmission networks in the world. With a diverse portfolio of structures ranging from 30m to over 230m masts, and as one of the most mature portfolios, it has the best regional and rural penetration among Australian tower companies across its 600+ sites. Servicing not just broadcasters, it provides infrastructure leasing and related services to the majority of the MNOs, NBN Co., as well as other telecommunications players. It is part of BAI Communications, which provides connectivity solutions in various metropolises in North and South America.
BSNL: BSNL is the State-owned telecommunications provider in India. It is the largest provider of fixed telephony and broadband services with more than 60% market share and fourth largest mobile network operator in India. BSNL has begun the process of carving out its own towerco, and has received “in-principle” approval from the Department of Telecommunications which will establish an inter-ministerial group to work out the capital and organisational structure of the new company, once a market valuation of BSNL’s 65,000+ tower assets is carried out. Its merger with the other State-run operator MTNL has long been mooted.
Canada Pension Plan Investment Board: CPPIB is the professional investment management organisation that invests the funds of the Canada Pension Plan on behalf of its 20mn contributors and beneficiaries. CPP’s tower investments include 10.3% stakes in Bharti Infratel with KKR, bought at US$951.6mn. It is also part of the consortium led by KKR in talks to buy a significant stake in a combined Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers.
Carlyle Group: Founded in 1987 in Washington, DC, the Carlyle Group is a global alternative asset manager with US$170bn of assets under management across 299 investment vehicles. In 2012 it acquired ~25% stake in Indonesian towerco PT Solusi Tunas Pratama TBK (STP) for a reported US$100mn, but is now in the process of selling its shares.
Cam Towerlink: Established in 2013 in Cambodia by a group of three Malaysian shareholders, Cam Towerlink provides turnkey telecommunications infrastructure solutions for operators, including designing, constructing and operating telecoms towers and small cell sites. One of Cam Towerlink’s first projects is to deploy telecoms coverage for the first time around the Angkor Wat temple complex. The company plans to expand its footprint into neighbouring municipalities.
CAT Telecom: CAT Telecom is a Thai fixed and mobile network operator, and one of three State-backed companies operating a nationwide network. Thailand’s leading MNOs operate their networks under build-operate-transfer (BOT) partnerships with both CAT and their counterpart TOT, which has led to disputes about tower ownership as the BOT relationships conclude. CAT Telecom and DTAC have been in ongoing discussions to create a joint venture towerco, and transfer 9,000 disputed concession towers into it.
Centratama: PT Centratama Telecommunication Indonesia TBK is a listed towerco providing passive telecoms infrastructure for service providers, along with its subsidiary PT Centratama Menara Indonesia, formerly known as PT Retower Asia. As of June 2017, the company owned 968 towers with an additional 805 DAS.
China Independent Tower Alliance (CITA): The China Independent Tower Alliance was inaugurated on 30 June, 2017, created under the leadership and guidance of the Communications Network Operation and Maintenance Committee (COMC) and in partnership with private towercos, telecom infrastructure builders, equipment and service providers, design consulting firms, academic and research institutes, and more. Its current membership consists of more than 60+ organisations. It also established a provincial presence in Zhejiang this October.
China Mobile: Leading State-owned telecommunications services provider in Mainland China with the world’s largest mobile network and mobile customer base. The MNO reported total customer base of 877mn+ ending September 2017, with 621mn+ being 4G customers. It is listed on both the Hong Kong and New York Stock Exchange (HKEX and NYSE). China Mobile owns 38% of China Tower Corporation, to which all its towers have been transferred.
China Reform Corporation: State-owned fund and asset manager. In October 2015 it injected CNY¥7.7bn (~US$1.2bn) in cash for a 6% stake in China Tower Corporation.
China Telecom: State-owned telecommunications services provider in Mainland China with the largest fixed-line service. Of the three MNOs in the country, China Telecom is third-ranked, with 240mn+ mobile subscribers ending third quarter 2017, of which 167mn+ are 4G users. All China Telecom’s towers have been transferred to China Tower Corporation, in which China Telecom owns a 27.9% stake.
China Tower Corporation: Established in July 2014, China Tower Corporation is the largest towerco in the world with 1.9mn towers. It is owned by China Mobile (38%), China Unicom (28.1%), China Telecom (27.9%) and China Reform Corporation (6%). It is expected to IPO on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the first quarter of 2018, with the goal to raise US$5-10bn through a 10-20 % stake sale. China International Capital Corp Ltd (CICC) and Goldman Sachs are to lead the IPO, with more expected to join the final sponsorship team.
China Unicom: State-owned telecommunications services provider in Mainland China, ranked second behind China Mobile and ranked fourth globally by subscriber base. For the first nine months of 2017, it boasted ~277mn subscribers with ~58% as 4G customers (160mn+). All of China Unicom’s towers have been transferred to China Tower Corporation, in which China Unicom owns a 28.1% stake in. Of the three State-owned MNOs in the country, China Unicom was selected along with other SOEs to take part in the “mixed ownership” reform, to bring in additional investments (and potential resources) from private investors such as tech giants Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu.
Citi: One of the world’s leading tower transaction advisory groups can be found within the TMT team at Citi.
Common Tower: Common Tower Technologies Sdn. Bhd is an independent tower owner and operator in Malaysia, and is also one of the nation’s largest providers of professional site development services to companies in the telecommunications industry. CTTSB owns, operates and manages over 260 tower sites in Sabah following its appointment as the ‘State Backed Company’ to undertake the TIME2 Project in Sabah since 2005.
Delmec: The tower experts in consultation and engineering, providing global solutions to operators, towercos and regulators on standards, guidance and due diligence for portfolio management. Engaging audit, assessment and analysis for structural enhancement, capacity and maintenance as individual activities or by way of managed services.
Delta Partners: Delta Partners’ expertise in tower transactions includes M&As, capital raising, due diligence and strategy support to towercos, telecom operators and investors on network sharing, tower monetisation, transaction execution, structuring and operational streamlining. Most recently, it acted as the sole strategic and financial advisor to edotco on its acquisition of the Towershare portfolio in Pakistan (Tanzanite).
Deutsche Bank: Deutsche Bank provides M&A advisory services as well as financing services in the tower space, including both equity and debt products. Deutsche Bank has been involved in the tower sector on a global basis, successfully executing transactions in North America, South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
DIF: The Digital Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund, formerly known as TRUEGIF or TRUEIF, is a towerco solution created by Thai MNO True. It is Thailand’s first telecommunication infrastructure fund which invests in telecommunication infrastructure assets such as telecommunication towers, fibre optic cable system, transmission equipment, broadband system and/or revenue incurred from the assets, with extensive coverage nationwide. The purpose is to support the sharing use of telecommunications infrastructure, reduce investment redundancy in telecommunication infrastructure and enhance competitions among operators to help increase efficiency of network services. The fund was listed in late 2013.
True has injected 6,000 of their own towers into the infrastructure fund/towerco which for year-end 2016 totalled 12,138 tower assets and 60,343km of fibre. DIF could see inorganic growth in the coming months as True is reportedly looking to inject more tower and optical fibre assets into the fund.
Eco-Friendly Towers (EFT): EFT is a subsidiary of diversified Myanmar conglomerate Young Investment Group. EFT secured an order for roughly 700 phase-three towers from Telenor, with ~550 sites built to date. EFT was initially the only towerco able to deploy and manage towers in several Northern Myanmar states, where security can be challenging, but TowerXchange sources have confirmed that EFT’s phase three contract is nationwide.
edotco: edotco is the first pan-regional tower services provider in Asia, and is committed to deploying cost-efficient telecommunications infrastructure across the region by enabling competitive access for the industry and connectivity for communities. edotco is a subsidiary of Malaysia’s Axiata Group. Through private placements totalling US$700mn with INCJ, Khazanah and KWAP, Axiata’s share is now 62.4%.
With a regional portfolio that includes 31,600 towers in Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Myanmar, edotco strives to deliver outstanding operational efficiency in telecommunications infrastructure services and solutions. edotco’s tower portfolios in all six countries are managed in real-time at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur by the state-of-the-art echo monitoring service.
edotco has been growing steadily since its founding in 2012, both organically through tower rollouts across its footprint, and inorganically through acquisitions, and continues to evaluate new opportunities for growth in Asia based on their merits. In 2017, it acquired ~700 towers from Towershare in Pakistan, shortly followed by a landmark buy and leaseback of 13,000 towers with MNO Jazz, in transactions totalling US$1.0289bn.
Etisalat: Emirates Telecommunications Corporation operates in 16 countries across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The telecommunications service provider has three opcos in Asia. Pakistani subsidiary Ufone has been exploring the sale and leaseback of its towers for a while now; while there may also be appetite to monetise, carve out or outsource their towers in Afghanistan. Etisalat’s Sri Lankan subsidiary retains their towers.
EY: TMT strategy and corporate finance advisory team with extensive experience of advising on tower transactions.
FMO: Dutch development bank 51% government owned, 49% by commercial banks and financial institutions. FMO arranged a subordinated loan of US$13mn to Irrawaddy Green Towers in Myanmar via its Infrastructure Development Fund.
Frontier Tower Solutions: Founded as an independent tower company by the corporate “parent” of Afghan Wireless Communications Company (AWCC) in 2012. At last count it operated 1,500 towers in Afghanistan, and also has operations in Iraq.
Gihon: PT. Gihon Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Gihon) was established in Jakarta in 2001, and currently has around 700 tenants on ~500 towers.
Golden Towers: Golden Towers is an independent tower company incorporated in Vietnam focused on acquiring existing telecommunications tower assets in the Vietnamese market. As of December 2015 Golden Towers owned and operated approximately 340 towers. Golden Towers plans to build its telecommunications tower portfolio mostly through acquisition of existing towers and limited construction of new towers is envisaged, not exceeding 10% of the total portfolio.
GTL Infrastructure: GTL Infrastructure is a publicly-listed tower company in India with a portfolio of ~28,000 towers across the country, serving all major telecoms service providers. Founded in 2004 and listed in 2006, GTL Infrastructure began expanding its portfolio in 2008 and acquired 17,500 towers from Aircel. However, the cancellation of 122 operator licenses by the government, slow uptake of 3G and price wars between service providers have left GTL Infrastructure with a heavy debt burden. The towerco is currently refinancing its residual debt (approximately US$721mn) and plans to switch ownership around March 2018.
Guodong Network: The largest independent towerco in China with a tower count of ~15,000, all through organic growth. Headquartered in Shanghai, it has nationwide presence in the country.
Hardiman Telecommunications: A unique consultancy equally capable advising on engineering and operational issues as they are on commercial strategy and corporate finance. Extensive experience advising on both the buy-side and sell-side in tower transactions.
Herbert Smith Freehills: International law firm that advised edotco on its transactions with Towershare and Jazz in Pakistan.
Hutchison: Hutchison 3G is an MNO with a presence in multiple countries across Europe and Asia. In recent years, it has been involved in tower transactions in Australia, where some of its assets were sold to Crown Castle Australia (now Axicom), and in Indonesia where it negotiated a sale and leaseback deal of 3,692 towers with Protelindo.
IBS Tower: Founded in 2006 and listed in August 2012, PT Inti Bangun Sejahtera Tbk (IBS) is one of Indonesia’s “big four” publicly traded independent tower companies. Starting as an in-building system solution provider, IBS has since focussed its resources on ground based towers, earning it a significant presence in the market. At end of 2016, IBS had 3,677 towers.
Idea Cellular: India’s third ranked MNO is in the midst of a high profile merger with #2 MNO Vodafone India. The transaction seems likely to shake loose Idea’s 8,886 captive towers, held in Idea Cellular Infrastructure Services, as well as potentially Idea’s stake in Indus Towers.
IDFC Alternatives: Private equity arm of IDFC group that manages over US$3.4bn on behalf of leading institutional investors from across the world. In April 2017 it purchased a 33% stake in Ascend Telecom for US$91.2mn. The deal involved Rs 365 crore of shares and Rs 220 crore of convertible debentures, as well as IDFC Bank refinancing Ascend Telecom’s loans of Rs 620 crore.
Jio: Reliance Jio Infocomm Limited is the brainchild of billionaire Mukesh Ambani, which launched in the fall of 2016 as a 4G LTE mobile network operator in India. Its entry into the marketplace has created severe disruptions due to its aggressive pricing and marketing strategies, leading to mergers between Vodafone and Idea Cellular, as well as Bharti Airtel with Telenor India and Tata.
While Jio has leveraged substantial co-location on towerco sites, around half the ~100,000 towers in their network are self-deployed city poles.
Indus Towers: Incorporated in 2007, Indus Towers is a joint venture towerco founded by Bharti Infratel, Vodafone India, Aditya Birla Telecom (Idea) with a portfolio of ~123,000 towers. Its mission is to provide passive infrastructure services to telecom service providers in India on a non-discriminatory basis, delivering best-of-class operational efficiency and opex reduction.
Indus Towers has won awards for its approach to supply-chain management and operational excellence, its drive to reduce the carbon footprint of its tower portfolio, and is also playing a part in helping the government reach its goals for nation-wide coverage, small cell deployment, and the creation of smart cities in India.
A consortium led by KKR is rumored to be seeking to buyout the towerco and merge it with Bharti Infratel, a transaction valued at US$11bn.
ING: Leading Dutch bank with considerable experience of providing debt finance to the tower industry.
Innovation Network Corporation of Japan: INCJ was launched in July 2009 and is a unique public-private partnership aimed at promoting innovation and enhancing the value of businesses in Japan. It has a market cap of JPY300bn, with the Japanese government injecting JPY286bn and 26 private corporations providing a further JPY14bn. The government will also provide guarantees up to a total of JPY1,800bn for INCJ investments, giving it an investment capability of approximately JPY2,000bn. INCJ will be established for a period of 15 years. It was part of edotco’s private placement in late 2016, investing US$400mn for a 21.5% stake in edotco. It also invested in IBS firm JTOWER when it first launched.
International Finance Corporation (IFC): The IFC is a member of the World Bank Group, the world’s leading DFI. The IFC has invested around half a billion dollars in debt and equity into eight towercos across emerging markets, with an objective to double that total investment by 2018. In June 2017, it closed its investment in Myanmar towerco Irrawaddy Green Towers (IGT) of US$95mn (including a parallel loan of US$42.5mn).
IPT Powertech: IPT PowerTech Group delivers specialised solutions to the power, industrial and telecom sectors in Africa, Middle East and Southeast Asia. The group is recognised as a global leader in the provision of Guaranteed Savings and T-ESCO models, including operating the energy equipment across the footprint of Ooredoo Myanmar.
Irrawaddy Green Towers: IGT had an order of 2,000 towers in phases one and two for Telenor in Myanmar; it then reportedly secured an order for a further 1,000 phase-three towers, this time from Ooredoo. To date it is the largest towerco in Myanmar with 2,500 towers. IGT provides a ‘full service’ tower+power offering. The principal shareholders of Irrawaddy Green Towers’ parent company Irrawaddy Towers Asset Holdings are affiliates of Blu Stone Management and M1 Group. Local Myanmar company Barons Telelink owns a stake in the operating subsidiary.
Jazz: Created from the merger of Warid and Mobilink in early 2017, it is the largest MNO in Pakistan by subscribers. In late August, Jazz entered a sale and leaseback of its 13,000+ towerco subsidiary, Deodar, with edotco, who partnered with local firm Dawood Hercules for the deal. The transaction is valued at US$940mn. The portfolio was established over 20+ years of operations, featuring a balanced urban-rural mix, and mainly tracks with the population concentration of Pakistan along the Indus valley with greater concentration of sites in the Central region, followed by the South and Baluchistan and KPK and North regions. About 80% are ground-based as opposed to rooftop structures.
JTOWER: Founded in 2012, JTOWER is the sole provider of in-building telecom infrastructure sharing solutions in Japan. Its proprietary in-building Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) are used in prominent establishments across Japan, including commercial complexes and office buildings, by all three major mobile network operators (NTT DOCOMO, KDDI and Softbank). The system is MIMO-ready active DAS and covers six bands used by the Japanese MNOs.
In late July 2017, JTOWER purchased the IBS component of the SEATH portfolio (120+ IBS in Vietnam) for US$10.2mn, marking its first expansion outside of Japan; it is also exploring other regional opportunities.
JP Morgan: Leading TMT advisory team with extensive experience in towers, including some of the landmark transactions. It was the sole placement agent for edotco’s transaction with Khazanah, INCJ and KWAP.
Khazanah Nasional Berhad: It is the strategic investment fund of the Government of Malaysia. Khazanah holds and manages selected commercial assets of the Government and undertakes strategic investments on behalf of the nation. It is involved in sectors such as power, telecommunications, finance, healthcare, aviation, infrastructure, leisure and tourism, and property. In December 2016 the fund invested US$200mn in exchange for a 10.7% stake in edotco.
KJS: KJS is a State-backed towerco created in partnership with the Malaysian state of Selangor. KJS processes all applications related to telecoms in Selangor, and builds and leases telecoms infrastructure to service providers. KJS has built towers, monopoles and lamp poles on private and state agency land in Selangor and owned and operated approximately 300 structures as of Q3 2014.
Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts (KKR): Kohlberg Kravis & Roberts is a leading global investment firm that manages multiple alternative asset classes, including private equity, energy, infrastructure, real estate, credit and, through its strategic partners, hedge funds. In March 2017, KKR and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) bought a 10.3% stake in Bharti Infratel for Rs 6,193 crore (US$951.6mn). KKR previously invested in the Indian towerco between 2008 and 2015. Right now KKR is believed to be in talks to lead a consortium of buyers including CPPIB, Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and GIC Singapore to buy a significant stake in a merged Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers deal, valued at ~US$11bn.
Komet Infra Nusantara (KIN): KIN is a rollup towerco trading solely in Indonesia, having consolidated the assets of Tara, Komet, Corona, Telematika, and Ida Lombok since 2014. To date, KIN has a portfolio of ~1,300 towers, a product of both organic and inorganic growth. KIN is owned by Indonesian infrastructure giant PT Nusantara Infrastructure and management, with IDR460bn injected by Providence Equity, who is now looking to exit Indonesia (and Asia in general, having shut down operations in India and Singapore).
KPR Consult: Renowned ‘tower doctors’ – go-to guys for structural and technical due diligence, improvement capex planning, decommissioning and just about anything to do with tower design and maintenance.
KWAP: Kumpulan Wang Persaraan is the second largest pension fund in Malaysia. KWAP took part in edotco’s private placement exercise, investing US$100mn for 5.4% stake in the towerco.
Macquarie Group: Serial towerco investors, with capital at work in Europe within Arqiva and Russian Towers, and farther afield with Axicom (formerly Crown Castle Australia), Mexico Tower Partners and Viom Networks (being integrated into ATC India). Macquarie Capital also has an excellent TMT advisory practice with experience of advising on tower transactions, however, it has recently shifted to focus on its main investments in Asia, rather than advisory.
Myanmar Infrastructure Group (MIG): MIG is a joint venture between majority shareholder Singapore Myanmar Investco (SMI) and Golden Infrastructure Group (GIG). MIG had proved themselves building rooftops and poles for both Telenor and Ooredoo in Yangon, as well as executing a substantial DAS project within Yangon’s airport, off the back of which they secured a contract to build 503 towers in phase three of Ooredoo’s rollout. MIG had access to the capital markets via SMI’s Singapore stock exchange listing. MIG provides a full service tower+power proposition. In October 2016 the sale of MIG to Shining Star International (headquartered in Kunming) for US$12.7mn was announced; unfortunately a few months later, the deal collapsed with the towerco now being run in “maintenance mode.”
Mitratel: Founded in 1995, PT. Dayamitra Telecommunications (Mitratel) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of PT. Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Tbk (Telkom). The company was to be transferred to Tower Bersama Group under an innovative share-swap structure, but the deal was overruled by the Indonesian government in Q3 2015.
Mitratel’s current tower count is ~13,000+. Mitratel is said to receive approximately 50% of Telkomsel’s BTS orders.
MPT Myanmar: Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) is the State-backed incumbent operator in Myanmar, and is also backed by the KDDI-Sumitomo joint venture KGSM. MPT remains the market leader, although its market share declined from 66.6% to 44% from Q4 2014 to now.
In the first half of 2016, MPT started to share its infrastructure with the other MNOs. It has also changed its capex model, shifting to build-to-suit (BTS) with the towercos rather than building through turnkey providers such as Huawei and ZTE. As it awards BTS contracts to various towercos as a test, awarding more orders subject to proven success, MPT was also described as likely to do more co-locations down the road. Since the MPT-KSGM partnership in 2014, MPT has built approximately 1,200 to 1,300 new towers.
MTNL: Indian State-owned operator currently considering the divestment of its 10,000 tower portfolio as well as a merger with the other State-owned MNO BSNL.
Myanmar Investments International Limited: (AIM: MIL) The first Myanmar-focused investment company to be admitted to trading on the AIM market of the London Stock Exchange. MIL was established in 2013. Its largest investment (US$21mn cost for a 9.3% shareholding) is in Apollo Towers.
Myanmar National Tele & Communications (Mytel): The recently licensed fourth operator in Myanmar is a joint venture between Vietnam’s Viettel and a consortium of 11 local companies (Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public Limited). Mytel received its license in January 2017 and will operate under the brand name Mytel, effective early 2018. Mytel has announced it will invest US$1.3bn and focus more on rural coverage. The license is for 15 years and the MNO will operate in the 900MHz and 2.1GHz bands. Mytel requires approximately 2,500 co-locations plus up to 2,500 to 3,000 new builds to launch its network. Mytel is believed to have contracted with a number of new local towercos.
National Tower Development (NTD): NTD is a new towerco in Myanmar, launching in 2017 to take advantage of the new fourth operator Mytel’s network rollout in the country. It also has exclusive rights to build monopoles and lamp posts in the Mandalay region.
Naza Communications: Formerly known as Premium Radius, Naza Communications is part of privately-held Naza Group in Malaysia. Started in 2014, the towerco is positioning itself to be more than just a site-based asset provider to the mobile network operators in the country, investing in RAN sharing solutions on top of tower leasing.
New Silk Route: New Silk Route is a US$1.4bn private equity firm that invests in private companies in India, Asia, and the Middle East. Its investments in the telecommunications infrastructure industry include Ascend Telecom in India.
Nordic Teleservices: Founded in 2014, NTS has grown to become of of the leading companies in Myanmar to provide green technology solutions at the lowest carbon footprint in the market for both telecom operators and towercos. NTS specialises in hybrid power solutions, site management and maintenance services for the telecom industry, and are believed to be one of the country’s two largest T-ESCOs.
Norton Rose Fulbright: Global law firm with more than 4,000 lawyers and other legal staff based in Europe, the United States, Canada, Latin America, Asia, Australia, Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. In Asia, the firm has acted for lenders in the financing of Tower Bersama in Indonesia through the years and more recently Pan Asia Majestic Eagle and Irrawaddy Towers, both in Myanmar.
OCK Group: Founded in 2000 in Malaysia, OCK Group’s telecommunication network service provides end-to-end full-turnkey service that includes the designing, building and maintenance of telecommunications infrastructure. It was listed on the ACE MARKET of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad in July 2012. Since then it has expanded into new markets, including Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Vietnam.
OCK operates as a towerco in Malaysia, Myanmar and Vietnam. In Myanmar it won a contract with Telenor in 2015 to deploy 920 towers, of which ~620 have been built to-date. In April 2017 it secured ~90 co-locations with MPT and in July ~70 co-locations and 300+ new BTS with new operator Mytel, with delivery for end of year.
First announced in August 2016 and finalised in January 2017, OCK purchased the largest towerco SEATH in Vietnam for US$50mn. The portfolio was made up of 1,972 towers. Moving forward, OCK is said to have allocated US$5mn to US$8mn for its growth in Vietnam, targeting 200 to 250 tower builds per year. It also seeks to increase tenancy ratio from 1.26 to 1.3 by the end of 2017.
Omnix: Omnix was established in 2011 as an independent towerco to meet the operator demand for mobile coverage in urban and suburban areas of peninsula Malaysia. One of its main value propositions is the land bank it secured through government and private site ground tenancy agreements with the Islamic Council in Malaysia, giving it access to highly coveted but difficult to acquire sites. Over the summer it also secured an agreement with the Ministry of Education.
Ooredoo: Ooredoo, formerly known as Qtel, is the incumbent mobile network operator in Qatar, and also has extensive international operations in Indonesia (Indosat) and Myanmar, where it was one of the original two international operators to receive a license to build telecommunications infrastructure.
Ooredoo had 9.9mn subscribers in Myanmar at the end of Q3 2017, good for 19% market share. It has ~300 tower assets on its own balance sheets (mostly roof tops and RDUs), with a total of ~4,500 sites including co-locations. Like MPT and Telenor, Ooredoo also picked up the 1800MHz spectrum this year to expand its 4G network.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC): The U.S. Government’s development finance institution. It mobilises private capital to help address critical development challenges and in doing so, advances U.S. foreign policy and national security priorities. In June 2016, OPIC provided a US $250mn debt facility to Apollo Towers.
PAMEL: Pan Asia Majestic Eagle Limited (PAMEL, sometimes referred to as Pan Asia Towers or PAT) built 1,250 towers for Ooredoo in Myanmar in phases one and two. Along with Michael Gearon, PAMEL has management DNA in common with Indonesia’s Protelindo, but remains a distinct entity. In 2014 PAMEL secured US$85mn in financing from a consortium of five banks: DBS, ING, OCBC, Standard Chartered and Sumitomo Mitsui. PAMEL has not built any towers in phase three of the Myanmar rollout, and has been subject to consolidation speculation.
PEKAPE: PT. PERMATA KARYA PERDANA was founded in 2013, beginning operations in mid-2014, with the vision to be a premier telecommunications infrastructure provider in Indonesia. Its mission is to facilitate faster and more economic roll-out of wireless operations throughout Indonesia including countryside and remote areas, as well as urban city centres. Through its partnership with Alfa Mart, one of the leading retailers in the country, PEKAPE is uniquely positioned to offer some of the best locations desired by MNOs for coverage, infill and capacity.
Persada Sokka Tama: Established in 2006, PT. Persada Sokka Tama started off with build-to-suit activities before becoming a tower provider in 2008 and offering co-locations for telecoms service providers in Indonesia. The company has ~1,000 towers mostly concentrated in Java and Nusa Tenggara.
Protelindo: Brainchild of Michael Gearon and his loyal management team, Protelindo is the largest towerco in Indonesia where they own ~14,600 towers after their most recent acquisition of 2,500 towers from XL Axiata in Q1 2016. Over the last two years, Protelindo has significantly improved its scale and credit profile. Its leverage has strengthened through EBITDA growth, enabled by a significant increase in the number of tenancies on its towers.
Protelindo has also begun to diversify into microcell assets and fibre to support the continued organic and inorganic growth of its portfolio. The company acquired iForte in June 2015 along with its 450 microcell towers, seven hotel BTS and 700km of fibre with over 180 PoPs in the city centre and business districts in Jakarta and Surabaya.
Providence Equity Partners: A global private equity and credit investment firm with more than US$50bn in capital under management; Providence are communications and media investment specialists. Providence announced it was existing the Asian market in 2017, which may affect its 4.8% stake in Indus Towers. Over the summer Providence’s KIN portfolio in Indonesia was also put on the block; while Indonesia does have foreign direct investment restrictions, through an innovative investment structure, Providence effectively owns a substantial stake in the portfolio. Providence also has capital at work in Brazil with Grupo TorreSur.
PT Wellington Capital Advisory: PT Wellington Capital Advisory (WCA) is a privately-held, fully-independent professional services firm, with offices in Jakarta and Singapore. They assist clients to develop and leverage significant investments in the TMT space within Indonesia and throughout Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on opportunities in the rapidly-evolving tower industry.
Q Towers: Independent towerco with ~120 towers and an impressive tenancy ratio of 2.8 in China; one of its backers is a Texas-based hedge fund.
Redpeak Advisers: Based in Singapore with a core team of ex-Macquarie Capital staff, including Anupam Garg and Kingston Pang, Redpeak is a boutique corporate finance adviser focused on the TMT sector in the ASEAN region.
Reliance Communications: Reliance Communications (RCOM) is currently the sixth largest telecommunications provider in India, and part of the Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group. However, the wireless business unit of RCOM seems increasingly likely to cease trading, potentially leaving their carve out towerco, Reliance Infratel (which was to be rebranded Towercom), in limbo without an anchor tenant.
Reliance Infratel (aka Towercom): In an effort to reduce debt, RCOM has been trying to sell its ~45,000 towers since late 2015; a period of exclusive negotiations with TPG Capital and Tillman Global Holdings fell through due to a dispute over the valuation of assets; more recent dialogue has been with Brookfield Asset Management.
SACOFA: SACOFA is a State-backed towerco providing BTS services and is based in the Malaysian state of Sarawak. SACOFA has over 700 towers across Sarawak, and has signed an agreement with Malaysian MNO U Mobile to expand their network coverage in this state. In addition to its tower portfolio, SACOFA also operates a 950km submarine cable between Sarawak and West Malaysia, and a 4,000km fibre optic trunk network between Kuching and Lawas in Sarawak.
Saurava Towers: Saurava Towers is an Indian towerco founded in 2008, providing managed services and passive infrastructure for telecoms service providers. Services include site acquisition, tower deployment, and site operation and maintenance. At the end of Q2 2016, Saurava had 55 towers.
SEATH: The largest towerco in Vietnam was Southeast Asia Telecommunications Holdings (SEATH), itself the product of rolling up three smaller towercos with a reported book value of US$58.7mn in Q2 2016. SEATH was a holding company owned by VNI (VinaCapital’s Vietnam Infrastructure Limited). According to the company’s report from Q1 2015, they had 1,924 towers in Vietnam with a tenancy ratio of 1.2, an EBITDA margin of 54.1% and net margin of 15.2%. In January 2017, the tower portion of the portfolio (1,972) was sold to OCK Group for US$50mn, with Japan-based JTOWER purchasing the IBS portfolio for US$10.2mn over the summer.
Sino Netstone: Independent towerco in China created in 2013. Headquartered in Beijing it has an estimated portfolio of ~1,800 towers.
SREI Infrastructure Finance: SREI Infrastructure Finance Limited is a leading infrastructure financing conglomerate in India, and one of the first companies to lay the groundwork for telecoms infrastructure sharing. Prior to the sale to American Tower, SREI was the managing shareholder in Viom Networks, and merged with associate company Quippo in 2010. Founded by the Kanoria family, Quippo provides construction equipment rental, energy rental, oil and gas equipment rental and telecom tower infrastructure rentals. Quippo is currently exploring tower and telecom infrastructure opportunities outside India.
Solusi Tunas Pratama (STP): Listed on the Indonesian stock exchange in 2011, Solusi Tunas Pratama’s (STP) consolidated its position as the third largest independent towerco in Indonesia with its acquisition of 3,500 towers from XL in December 2014. This followed the acquisition of existing portfolios from other local operators such as Axis, Bakrie and Hutchison. STP started building its own towers in December 2012 to achieve organic growth in addition to acquiring existing portfolios; it now owns and operates approximately 7,000 sites. Shareholders Carlyle and Southern Capital who collectively own ~69% are currently seeking an exit.
Tata DOCOMO: Tata DOCOMO is an Indian cellular service provider and product of a strategic joint venture between Tata Teleservices and NTT Docomo in November 2008. Recently Tata Teleservices (Tata) announced its intention to exit the wireless market and close down its mobile service unit. According to American Tower’s press release on the matter, Tata “accounted for approximately US$80mn, or 5%” of the towerco’s consolidated property revenue and for “approximately US$40mn” in gross margins as of the end of Q2 2017. Tata was the anchor tenant (and a 33% shareholder) on most of Viom Networks’ sites which were acquired by American Tower in April 2016, which acquired a 51% controlling stake. Most of the non-cancellable contracts between Tata and what was Viom are still valid for a period in excess of six years.
Telkomsel: PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia is the incumbent telecommunications provider in Indonesia, and holds the largest share of the market. Telkomsel has Indonesia’s largest and most pervasive tower network, some of which remain on its own balance sheet, some of which have been transferred to wholly owned towerco subsidiary Mitratel. Telkom explored the transfer of Mitratel and its assets to Tower Bersama Group in a unique share-swap deal which was ultimately refused by the government in mid-2015.
Telenor: Telenor is the incumbent telecommunications provider in Norway, and owns networks in twelve countries and has operations in 29 countries including India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand and Myanmar. Historically, Telenor has tended to partner with towercos rather than sell and leaseback towers.
In Thailand, Telenor’s subsidiary DTAC is in the process of negotiating a joint venture towerco with State-backed Thai operator CAT Telecom.
In Myanmar Telenor was one of the first foreign operators to obtain a license to build and operate telecommunications infrastructure in this greenfield market, and launched 4G services in the nation’s capital Nay Pyi Taw in July 2016. It has been expanding its 4G services steadily since picking up the 1800MHz spectrum in May 2017 at the price of US$80mn. It currently has a network of ~7,400 towers, the majority of which are tenancies on private towerco towers, and their network covers roughly 90% of the country’s population and townships. It also has retained assets of 1,200 sites, which are predominantly rooftops, which are believed to be up for sale. Total investments in the country are said to be over US$1.5bn. Telenor Myanmar’s subscriber base has grown to ~19mn for Q317, and it holds 37% market share.
Tillman Global Holdings (TGH): Multinational tower and infrastructure investment and operations firm led by Sanjiv Ahuja, former Chairman and co-founder of Eaton Towers and ex-CEO of Orange. TGH has a substantial stake in Apollo Towers Myanmar, which Ahuja chairs, and a joint venture partnership with JC Decaux, giving them the opportunity to locate points of service, particularly small cells, on over 1mn prime locations worldwide.
Tillman Global Tower Solutions: Tillman GTS is a joint venture with Global Tower Solutions, created to tackle both utility scale ground mounted solar solutions, and also to offer financing to or operate Energy Services Companies (ESCOs). Tillman GTS proposes to take the risk, and invest the capex in telecom ESCO projects in Asia and Africa. Tillman is planning to deploy ~US$700mn of capital for this venture over the next three to five years, either working to finance contracts for existing ESCOs or building and operating the ESCO themselves with O&M partners.
TOT: State-backed Thai MNO which has entered into discussions with Thai MNO AIS to create a joint venture towerco, but to date no major announcements have been made. Thailand’s leading MNOs operate their networks under build-operate-transfer (BOT) partnerships with both TOT and their counterpart CAT, which has lead to disputes about tower ownership as the BOT relationships conclude.
Tower Bersama: Based in Indonesia, the Tower Bersama Group comprises several rolled up towercos including PT Tower Bersama, PT United Towerindo, PT Telenet Internusa, PT Batavia Towerindo, PT Bali Telekom, PT Prima Media Selaras and PT Triaka Bersama, all operated seamlessly under one management team. The group’s infrastructure extends to Java, Bali, Sumatra and Batam and is currently being expanded into Kalimantan and Sulawesi.
Tower Bersama has steadily grown its tower portfolio organically, as well as through acquisitions of smaller towercos, and with buy and leasebacks with Indonesia’s operators. A share-swap to gain control of Telkom subsidiary Mitratel was planned, but was overruled by the government in Q3 2015. Tower Bersama currently has a portfolio of 13,000+ towers and plans to roll out ~1,250 new towers for 2017.
Towershare: Towershare is a leading independent owner and operator of wireless communications infrastructure focusing primarily in the Middle East, North Africa and Southern Asia, or MENASA markets. Towershare generates revenue from three primary businesses: build-to-suit, sale and leaseback and value-added services.
Towershare expanded its footprint into Pakistan (local entity knowns as Tanzanite) in 2015, building up to a portfolio of ~700 towers, mostly through acquisitions and with the majority of towers coming from previous WiTribe assets. The portfolio consists of over 70% urban, with 40% being ground based towers, and has a colocation ratio of 1.6x. In June 2017, edotco agreed to purchase 100% of Tanzanite for US$90mn.
Tower Vision: Tower Vision is an Indian towerco specialising in the provision of passive infrastructure to the wireless telecommunications industry with expertise in tower roll outs, operation and maintenance. Tower Vision owns and operates ~8,400 sites and offers greenfield towers, rooftops, and in-building distributed antenna systems to MNOs across India. Tower Vision has been rumoured to be a consolidation target for several years.
TrueMove: TrueMove is a State-backed Thai MNO, and one of three companies given a concession to build and operate a nationwide 900 MHz band and 1,800 MHz band network in the 1990s. True has created a separate entity for its tower assets in DIF, an infrastructure fund. To date True hasn’t engaged in negotiations with other operators to create a joint venture towerco.
Ufone: Ufone is the mobile arm of the incumbent telecoms provider in Pakistan, PTCL, and is the fourth largest operator in the country by subscribers. Ufone has been exploring the potential sale and leaseback of its towers in Pakistan for some time. The process was stalled by the de facto merger of PTCL and Ufone, and associated management changes, but Ufone could yet contribute over 6,000 further assets to the pool of commercially shared towers in the country.
Veon: Formerly knowns as VimpelCom Ltd., Veon is a leading global provider of connectivity and internet services headquartered in Amsterdam and serving more than 235 million customers. It has operations in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, Tajikistan, Georgia, Algeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Italy (as a JV with Hutchison Group).
In late August 2017, Veon and Global Telecom Holding announced that their subsidiary in Pakistan, Jazz, has signed an agreement for the sale of its tower business for approximately US$940mn, subject to adjustments. This transaction involved Jazz selling its wholly-owned tower company, Deodar, with a portfolio of approximately 13,000 telecommunication towers, to edotco together with partners Tanzanite Tower and Dawood Hercules Corporation.
Meanwhile Veon is also preparing its tower portfolio in Bangladesh for sale.
Viettel: Vietnamese military-controlled Viettel is one of the world’s most expansive MNOs, having recently secured a prominent role in the consortium behind Myanmar’s soon-to-be-launched fourth MNO. Viettel seems to be warming to the idea of partnering with towercos but to date retains all their towers in their other Asian opcos; Cambodia and their home market of Vietnam.
VimpelCom: See Veon.
Vinson & Elkins: Vinson & Elkins is one of the oldest and largest international law firms, with approximately 700 lawyers located in 15 offices around the world. Its global telecommunications team has extensive experience advising on international telecoms and telecoms infrastructure transactions in numerous countries.
Vodafone: Vodafone Group plc is an international telecommunications company, with headquarters in London, UK. Vodafone owns and operates networks in 26 countries and has partner networks in over 50 additional countries. Vodafone India is one of the partners in Indus Towers, the world’s second largest joint venture towerco; it is currently in the process of merging with Idea Cellular and looking to monetise the towers on its own balance sheets, as well as the majority of its shares in Indus. Vodafone also has an opco in Australia, which sold part of their tower portfolio several years ago.
Warid: Warid Pakistan is owned by Warid Telecom International, an Abu Dhabi-based mobile telecommunication investment firm. Warid Pakistan reportedly entered into a sale and leaseback agreement with Towershare for ~4,500 towers in Q2 2015, although the deal never closed. In early 2017 Warid completed its merger with Mobilink ( a subsidiary of Veon) which now operates as Jazz.
XL Axiata: XL is a mobile operator in Indonesia, and a fully owned subsidiary of the Axiata Group. XL has sought to reduce its tower footprint over the past few years, selling 3,500 towers to STP in 2014, and more recently 2,500 towers to Protelindo in 2016. XL retains a few thousand strategic sites.
Yiked Bina: Yiked Bina Sdn Bhd is a State-backed towerco active in the Malaysian state of Kedah. To date Yiked Bina owns and operates over 200 towers in Kedah, and clients include telecommunications service providers such as Telekom Malaysia, Celcom Axiata, Maxis, DiGi Telecommunication, U-Mobile, Sapura and Wi-MAX operators such as Packet One and YTL Communications.
Zong: Formerly knowns as CMPak, Zong is China Mobile’s Pakistan opco. It ranks third by subscribers and has around 9,100 sites, of which around 2,000 are co-locations.