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

2 May 2017

Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane (INWIT), the mobile infrastructure arm of Telecom Italia (TI), has reported turnover of EUR86.4 million (USD94.2 million) for the first three months of 2017, up from EUR81.7 million in Q1 2016. EBITDA, meanwhile, rose 13.9% year-on-year to EUR44.3 million, with an EBITDA margin of 51.3%. INWIT attributed the expansion to an increase in hosting, and a reduction in leasing costs. Profit for the period reached EUR28.9 million compared to EUR23.5 million in the corresponding period of 2016. Commenting on the results, CEO Oscar Cicchetti noted: ‘We … record the growth of our customer base borne out by the co-tenancy ratio that has risen to 1.75 tenants per site, a continued containment of costs and, in particular, of rental costs and the launch of various development projects relating to new sites, micro-cell coverage and fibre backhauling.’

Barcelona-based infrastructure group Cellnex has recorded a 15% annual increase in revenue for its first quarter, booking turnover of EUR189 million for the three-month period whilst EBITDA for the period totalled EUR84 million, an increase of 33% y-o-y. Net profit reached EUR11 million, however, only ‘remaining stable’ compared to Q1 2016 due to the higher financial costs associated with the company’s investments in 2016. In terms of key indicators, meanwhile, the number of customers per site grew 6.5% y-o-y to 1.63 and the company’s footprint covered 16,906 locations at the end of March 2017 – including 7,742 in Italy, 7,410 in Spain, 726 in the Netherlands, 438 in France and 580 in the UK – and featured 1,134 small cell and distributed antenna system (DAS) nodes.

International telecoms tower group American Tower Corporation (ATC) registered total revenue growth of 25.4% for the first quarter of 2017, registering turnover of USD1.6 billion. Adjusted EBITDA for the three-months ended 31 March 2017 reached USD998 million, an increase of 19.8% and equating to an adjusted EBITDA margin of 61.7%. Net profit, meanwhile grew 9.3% to USD307 million. The group noted that it saw particularly strong growth in the US, attributing the expansion to a recently amended master lease agreement with one of its tenants. ATC went on to add that ‘given the recent conclusion of the 600MHz auction, the numerous other spectrum assets yet to be deployed and several other potential catalysts, we believe that our portfolio of over 40,000 US sites remains optimally positioned to drive strong organic growth over the long term.’

ATC also noted that it has agreed to acquire approximately 1,400 sites from Tigo Paraguay for a total consideration of PYG700 billion (USD122.5 million). The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and the towerco expects to close the deal in H2 2017.

The shareholders of Indian telecoms group Reliance Communications (RCOM) have approved the demerger of the telecom tower assets of its infrastructure arm Reliance Infratel (RITL) to a newly-established subsidiary, Towercom Infrastructure. Once the demerger has been completed, Rapid Holdings 2, a division of Canada’s Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, will acquire 100% of Towercom Infrastructure for a total consideration of INR110 billion.

Staying with India, private equity firm IDFC Alternatives has reportedly bought a 33% stake in Ascend Telecom Infrastructure, Live Mint writes, citing two people involved in the transaction. According to the sources, IDFC bought shares worth INR3.7 billion as well as convertible debentures worth INR2.2 billion, and will also refinance INR6.2 billion of Ascend’s loans. Ascend’s tower portfolio currently comprises 5,222 sites across all 22 of India’s telecom circles.

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