Arqiva Group Limited, the leading UK communications infrastructure company, has reached an agreement with Cellnex for the sale of its telecoms infrastructure and related assets at an enterprise value of £2.0bn.
The transaction comprises c.7,400 of Arqiva’s cellular sites, including masts and towers as well as urban rooftop sites, and the right to market a further c.900 sites across the UK.
Cellnex is a significant pan-European tower operator with sites in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The acquisition continues Cellnex’s investment in the UK and follows their previously announced long-term strategic agreement with BT in June 2019, whereby Cellnex obtained the rights to operate and market 220 high towers located throughout the UK.
The Arqiva telecoms division serves all four UK mobile network operators individually, as well as holding contracts with the two joint ventures they operate between them (Cornerstone (CTIL) and MBNL). Arqiva’s towers operate on a neutral host basis.
Arqiva’s remaining broadcast infrastructure business sits at the heart of digital broadcasting in the UK. It leads in the provision of end-to-end network solutions for TV and radio customers, international content owners and data network providers, with around 1,500 broadcast transmission sites in the UK and five award-winning teleports. It also retains its interests in machine-to-machine data services which provide highly secure smart meter networks for the utilities sector.
The majority of the sale proceeds will be used to pay down debt in Arqiva’s capital structure, securing the long-term sustainability and financial security of the UK’s broadcast infrastructure.
Speaking on this development, 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.”
Tobias Martinez, CEO of Cellnex, said, “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.
“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.
Lazard is acting as sole financial advisor to Arqiva in connection with the transaction.