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Tower Talk: a guide to the latest major cell site developments

9 Aug 2016

Saudi mobile providers Etihad Etisalat (Mobily) and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to jointly explore options for extracting value from their respective tower portfolios. Under the MOU, the pair will look into means of reducing operating and capital expenditures related to their telecom towers throughout the kingdom.

Kenya’s anti-trust watchdog the Competition Authority of Kenya has given mobile provider Safaricom the green light to sell some of the mobile towers it acquired from Essar Telecom Kenya (ETK/yu), Business Daily Africa writes. Under the ruling, Safaricom’s wholly-owned subsdiary, East Africa Tower, was permitted to sell 30 of the 453 towers it acquired from yu to Kenya Tower. The value of the transaction was not disclosed.

General Communication Inc. (GCI) completed the sale of 275 urban wireless tower and rooftop sites to Vertical Bridge (VB) for around USD90 million on 1 August, the Alaska-based integrated telecommunications provider has confirmed. GCI completed the deal via its wholly-owned subsidiary, Alaska Wireless Network (AWN), which will remain as a tenant on the sites.

Bharti Infratel, the telecom tower arm of India’s largest cellco by subscribers, Bharti Airtel, booked revenue of INR32.106 billion (USD480.15 million) in the three months ended 30 June 2016, up from INR30.031 billion a year earlier. EBITDA was up 8.8% year-on-year to INR14.082 billion, whilst net profit was INR7.562 billion compared to INR4.424 billion the previous year. Infratel’s standalone portfolio consisted of 38,642 towers, with 81,908 co-locations across eleven telecom circles (Indian licensing areas), with an average ratio of 2.12 (2.05 a year earlier) and revenue of INR79,801 per tower per month. Infratel also holds a 42% stake in Indus Towers, which operated 120,739 towers with 272,603 co-locations at that date, giving Infratel an economic interest in the equivalent of 89,352 towers and 196,401 co-locations.

Spanish-owned European telecom infrastructure provider Cellnex has announced its results for H1 2016, reporting revenue of EUR338 million (USD374.71 million) for the six-month period, compared to EUR285 million in the corresponding period of 2015. Turnover from telecom site rental grew 46.0% year-on-year to EUR184 million through a mixture of organic growth and acquisitions, although operating costs also expanded from EUR170 million to EUR205 million.

Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane (INWIT), the tower infrastructure arm of Telecom Italia booked turnover of EUR164.9 million in the six months to end-June 2016, with EBITDA totalling EUR79.7 million. Profit for the period, meanwhile, was EUR48.6 million. Commenting on the firm’s results, CEO Oscar Cicchetti noted: ‘The half-year positive results confirm the solidity of our business and allow us to speed up our growth plan. In the first half of 2016, the revenues increased as did the number of customers hosted on our sites with co-tenancy reaching the level of 1.67x…The results achieved thus far and the prospects of increased demand for wireless infrastructure led us to follow an acceleration path that includes a potential increase of our investments in the three-year period [2016-2018] by a further EUR150 million, which will enable us to enrich our offer, strengthen the relationship with our customers…and accelerate the growth of our margins and our value.’

Italian tower company EI Towers, which operates around 2,300 broadcasting sites and 500 mobile sites, generated turnover of EUR125.1 million in H1 2016, up from EUR119.5 million in the same period of 2015. Adjusted EBITDA for the period was EUR60.6 million, compared to EUR55.7 million twelve months earlier, with a margin of 49.0% and net profit increased from EUR19.9 million to EUR22.8 million.

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