Advanced Television

Arqiva sells telecoms unit for £2bn

October 8, 2019

By Chris Forrester

Spain’s Cellnex Telcom is buying Arqiva’s telecoms unit for £2 billion (€2.2bn). The sale will make the Barcelona-based telco the largest independent operator of wireless infrastructure in the UK.

Evidently, Cellnex will fund the purchased with new debt, according to a statement.

Cellnex will see an additional 8000 UK wireless sites added to its existing portfolio of some 45,000 sites across Europe. Cellnex already owns 200 former BT sites in the UK.

The sale of this key asset will enable Arqiva to pay down some of its debt. Arqiva will hold onto its broadcasting & media division.

Arqiva had planned to mount an IPO – at the time planned to be for £4.5 billion – but pulled the move two years ago.

Simon Beresford-Wylie, CEO of Arqiva, said: “This agreement provides both stability and a focus for our future as we concentrate on the provision of broadcast infrastructure, end-to-end networks and connectivity solutions for our TV and radio customers, international content owners, data network providers and utilities. The majority of proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce debt, thereby providing a solid financial base for Arqiva and its shareholders to invest in the future of the UK’s terrestrial TV and radio platforms as well as its data networks and capability.”

“The deal will see a number of colleagues transfer to Cellnex, which I am confident will be an excellent owner for the business. I am sure that it will continue to go from strength to strength under their stewardship.” he concluded.

Tobias Martinez, CEO of Cellnex, added: “The Arqiva Telecoms division acquisition is a key milestone for Cellnex. Its strong UK asset-base, revenues and financial profile, combined with its long history at the heart of UK digital infrastructure, make it a perfect addition to our operations. This deal will not only add c.8,300 telecom sites to our portfolio but an experienced team that will further strengthen Cellnex’s demonstrated ability to meet its customers requirement. I look forward to working with the Arqiva Telecoms division team, in order to continue to run the business successfully, assuming new challenges together within the Cellnex project.

Martine continued: “The UK has always been a core component of our inorganic expansion plans. This agreement further demonstrates our commitment and confidence in the UK market as we look ahead to further opportunities. It provides a significant opportunity for the development of a mobile network fit to match the country’s ambitions. We are ideally placed to bring our operational expertise and innovative approach to bear in a context where the Government and regulators are looking to encourage greater connectivity for all citizens and businesses through network development.”

The transaction has been approved by the boards of Arqiva and Cellnex and is expected to close during H2 2020, subject to clearance from the regulatory authorities.


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