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

23 Aug 2016

OCK Vietnam Towers, a 60-40 joint venture between Malaysia’s OCK Group Berhard and CapAsia Telecommunications, has signed a conditional share sale and purchase agreement with Vietnam Infrastructure (VNI) for the purchase of the latter’s 100% stake in Vietnamese towerco Southeast Asia Telecommunications Holdings (Seath) for USD50 million cash. Bizhub quotes OCK managing director Sam Ooi Chin Khoon as saying: ‘Seath is the largest independent tower company with 1,938 telco towers spread throughout Vietnam and we are confident of growing the number of towers there with the expertise we have.’ The company’s sites have an average tenancy ratio of 1.25, although this is expected to reach 1.27 by the end of the year. The official went on to say that although Vietnam’s largest cellco, Viettel Telecom, also operates more than 20,000 towers the opportunity for growth in the country is huge as: ‘the rollout of the 4G or LTE network in Vietnam in the near future will require more towers to be built, as consumers continue to embrace the benefits of connectivity.’ Meanwhile, OCK is looking to increase its tower footprint across the region, with plans to build up to 3,000 new sites over the next five years, including 920 in Myanmar.

US-based Macquarie Investment Partners has acquired a 42.5% equity interest in wireless infrastructure firm InSite Wireless, from Catalyst Investors and other minority shareholders as part of an initial USD280 million investment. Macquarie pledged to commit future investment to promote the continued growth of Insite, which operates more than 1,200 twoers across 40 states in the US, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and four provinces in Canada. InSite’s president and CEO David Weisman commented on the deal, saying: ‘The [Macquarie] investment in InSite represents a significant growth opportunity for us. We’re delighted to partner with an experienced investor that has such a keen understanding of the wireless telecommunications infrastructure space’.

Russian Towers Group has signed an agreement with broadband provider AKADO Telecom to connect its tower sites to the latter’s fibre-optic cable network. Under the agreement, mobile operators will be able to use AKADO’s fibre lines as data transmission channels.

Brazilian wireless infrastructure provider Phoenix Tower Participacoes (Phoenix Brazil) is set to receive BRL80 million (USD24.9 million) financing from the World Bank’s International Finance Cooperation to support the acceleration of its tower footprint across Brazil. In turn, the investment will help improve the coverage and affordability of telecommunications and broadband services, thereby contributing to economic growth and inclusion in Brazil. The long-term debt financing will support Phoenix Brazil to fund the acquisition and construction of tower assets. In a statement from the IFC, the organisation noted that this would promote greater competition among tower companies, whilst the construction of additional telecommunication towers would also allow mobile operators to expand their service in terms of both capacity and geographic coverage. Further, the sharing of telecommunication towers among operators will drive down the incremental cost of expanding coverage for carriers, therefore allowing operators to make the services more affordable.

Indonesia infrastructure provider Centratama Telecomunikasi Indonesia has booked revenue of IDR64.29 billion (USD4.86 million) in H1 2016, an increase of 31.3% year-on-year. Gross profit for the six-month period grew to IDR14.37 billion from IDR10.28 billion. Centratama registered an operating loss of IDR13.10 billion, compared to IDR11.36 billion a year earlier, but narrowed its net loss from IDR22.90 billion in H1 2015 to IDR15.22 billion.

Jakarta-based Tower Bersama reported total revenue of IDR1.82 trillion for the first six months of 2016 up from IDR1.67 trillion a year earlier. Gross profit grew 10.4% year-on-year to IDR1.61 trillion, whilst operating expenses dropped 1.4% to IDR151.9 billion. Net profit for the period, meanwhile grew 71.1% annually to IDR851.6 billion.

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