Towers specialists buy more sites, raise more money

The towers specialists are at it again. The past few days have brought news of a sizeable telecoms towers deal in Latin America, while a smaller acquisition is underway in Europe.

Mary Lennighan

April 12, 2021

4 Min Read
telecoms radio towers

The towers specialists are at it again. The past few days have brought news of a sizeable telecoms towers deal in Latin America, while a smaller acquisition is underway in Europe.

IHS Towers has brokered a deal to acquire more than 800 towers in Brazil and Colombia from local player Centennial Towers.

This is a bit different from the raft of deals we have witnessed unfold of late, in that it is a case of one passive infrastructure specialist buying sites from another, rather than the more usual scenario of towers company buying up telco towers. Nonetheless, it is a further sign that the towers space continues to heat up, with big players looking to build even more scale.

It’s safe to assume that IHS is paying a fair amount for the sites, but it has not disclosed the value of the deal. The transaction will comprise 602 towers in Brazil and 217 in Colombia, but it’s not clear whether we’re talking purely mobile masts or rooftops sites as well.

Centennial Towers chief executive Steven Moskowitz understandably talked up the properties in questions, and his comments implied that IHS will pick up a variety of different sites through the deal.

“We are thrilled to enter into this transaction with IHS Towers as they recognize the uniqueness of Centennial’s diverse asset base in these two countries, which are primed for high levels of growth due to their strategic locations and quality construction,” Moskowitz said. “Centennial’s strong client relationships and proprietary management information systems will assist IHS Towers in advancing their drive to significantly increasing footprint and colocation growth in Latin America for years to come.” The deal leaves Centennial with around 800 towers in Mexico, incidentally.

IHS clearly agrees that the properties offer growth potential in the region. The firm marked its entry into Latin America just over a year ago when it closed the acquisition of Cell Site Solutions, a firm with 2,300 towers in Brazil, Peru and Colombia. At the start of this year it added to its portfolio in Brazil by buying Skysites, a provider of small cells and urban telecoms infrastructure with around 1,000 sites.

“The addition of Centennial Towers’ Brazilian and Colombian operations adds scale to our IHS Towers Latin American portfolio and will further strengthen the deep expertise and solutions we can offer to current and potential customers in these markets,” said Sam Darwish, IHS Chairman and Group Chief Executive Officer. “Latin America remains a key region for us with its high growth potential and, through these transactions, we will continue to increase our market presence.”

Another big name in the towers space has moved to bulk up its portfolio, albeit on a much smaller scale. According to Portugal’s competition authority, Cellnex is buying 65 telecoms towers from telecoms operator ONI. There’s little more information available than that, and this is doubtless a fairly small transaction, in telecoms infrastructure terms, but it highlights Cellnex’s ongoing commitment to building up its presence in Europe.

It is about a year since Cellnex revealed plans to buy Nos Towering, the aptly-named towers division of telco Nos, in a deal that valued it – and its 2,000 sites – at €375 million. The ONI deal will boost that portfolio. But elsewhere in Europe the firm has brokered even bigger deals, such as its €5.2 billion acquisition of Altice’s Hivory in France announced in February and last year’s €10 billion mega-deal with CK Hutchison.

With its appetite for expansion still clearly not sated, the firm recently announced it would undertake a €7 billion capital increase designed to help fund some of the aforementioned deals and further growth in future. It launched the €36.33-per-share capital hike in late March and noted that existing shareholders and company executives has already committed to picking up 32% of the new shares. Late last week it revealed that those commitments had been fulfilled.

Not in itself exciting news, perhaps, but it’s all part of Cellnex’s ambitious growth plan that will likely serve up more headline deals sooner rather than later.

About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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