Cellnex to Acquire Altice’s French Towers for $6.3 Billion

Cellnex Telecom SA said it will acquire French telecommunication towers from billionaire Patrick Drahi’s Altice Europe NV for 5.2 billion euros ($6.3 billion), the mast operator’s third major deal in as many months.

Barcelona-based Cellnex is in exclusive talks to buy Hivory, a joint venture between Altice and KKR & Co. that owns around 10,500 towers in France, it said in a filing Wednesday that confirmed an earlier Bloomberg News report.

Cellnex is planning a capital increase of as much as 7 billion euros to fund the acquisition. It follows the 10 billion-euro purchase of CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s European towers in November, and a deal with Deutsche Telekom AG in the Netherlands last month.

The Altice move may quell concerns that Cellnex, which relies heavily on acquisitions for growth, will struggle to keep its deal machine alive after U.S. rival American Tower Corp. made its first major foray into Europe last month with a 7.7 billion-euro deal for Telefonica SA’s tower sites.

Cellnex shares were down 2.2% at 4:31 p.m. in Madrid, giving the company a market value of 23.4 billion euros.

Infrastructure Sharing

Europe’s phone companies traditionally saw ownership of their network infrastructure as a vital part of their business model. Now, under pressure to raise cash and cut the bill for new network investments, they’ve begun to spin off their wireless masts into separate units or sell them outright.

Cellnex is snapping up a lot of those assets with a plan to consolidate antennas from multiple operators on single towers. That model -- adopted long ago by the U.S. telecommunications industry -- will make it cheaper for the phone companies to roll out fifth-generation networks and share their capacity in less densely populated areas.

“We will now be working in France with three of the big mobile operators in this market as anchor tenants, fostering infrastructure sharing,” Cellnex Chief Executive Officer Tobias Martinez said in the statement.

The company said it plans to spend as much as 900 million euros by 2029 to roll out new tower sites.

The capital increase is underwritten by JPMorgan Chase & Co., Barclays Plc, BNP Paribas SA and Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.