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

6 Sep 2016

Spanish telecoms group Telefonica is mulling an initial public offering (IPO) of its tower arm Telxius in H2 2016, having scrapped plans to launch the sale earlier this year amidst the fallout from Britain’s EU referendum result. The group intends to remain the infrastructure provider’s majority shareholder and is planning to float at least 25% of Telxius, the minimum legal requirement for the listing, Mobile World Live writes. Shares would be listed on the Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid and Valencia stock markets. Telxius owns and operates 15,931 sites across Spain (10,741), Germany (2,359), Brazil (1,655), Peru (849) and Chile (327).

Prior to its commercial launch earlier this week, Reliance Jio Infocomm (RJIL) signed agreements to lease a total of 25,000 towers from Indus Towers, American Tower Corporation India (ATC India) and GTL Infrastructure to plug gaps in its network coverage, the Economic Times writes, citing a source familiar with the matter. The deals cover 14,000 towers from Indus, 6,000 from GTL and 5,000 with ATC. According to the source, Jio received a 1% discount on rents to Indus for sites where it is the second tenant, and a 12.5% rebate on a number of currently vacant ATC towers.

Malaysia’s Axiata has confirmed plans to expand its tower division, edotco Group, with a view to listing the firm by 2018. Nikkei Asian Review reports that edotco, which currently owns and manages around 16,800 sites across Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, is looking to build or acquire around 10,000 towers over the next three to five years and is in the process of launching operations in Pakistan.

More than half of the 8,407 telecom towers in Delhi were installed illegally due to a five-year dispute over installation fees, according to the city’s three municipal corporations, which have sealed nearly 1,000 of the sites since last year. The Economic Times writes that the nation’s cellcos took the corporations to court in 2011 after a price hike the previous year had seen the authorities increase the fee for installing telecom towers from INR100,000 (USD1,500) to INR500,000 per site. Whilst the dispute went unresolved for the following five years, mobile providers installed a total of 4,668 new sites, all of which were deemed illegal by Delhi’s authorities as no installation fee had been paid. As such, the corporations began sealing the towers last year, with the east, south and north corporations closing down 543, 300 and 127 towers respectively. The dispute is now due to be resolved via mediation.

Finally, the average tenancy ratio on mobile towers in India is expected to increase to 2.9 by March 2020 from 1.95 in March 2015, the Economic Times cites a study from the Associated Chambers of Commerce India (Assocham) and KPMG as saying. Efforts from the country’s mobile providers to increase 3G and 4G coverage are expected to drive the shift, with the expansion into more rural areas highlighted as a key driver for the infrastructure industry over the next five years.

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