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

20 Jun 2017

Canada-based telecom tower operator Tower One Wireless has completed the purchase of an unnamed private tower firm in Argentina, just a week after signing a share purchase agreement with the company. The company owns, builds and leases cell towers in Argentina and has a master lease agreement (MLA) with a single – also unnamed – mobile network operator (MNO) in the country, under which the towerco has ‘build-to-suit’ opportunities. The acquired company, referred to by Tower One simply as ‘Tower Company,’ was established in 2016 and currently has two towers with a further two under construction and six more awaiting delivery from vendors. According to Tower One, Tower Company has 20 build-to-suit opportunities for May-June and a similar number for July-August, and expects to deploy around 100 towers per year. Commenting on the acquisition, Tower One CEO Alex Ochoa said: ‘Tower One has now solidified our position as a tower operator in Argentina and is advancing discussions with additional MNOs. Our new Tower Company is one of five firms with an MLA in Argentina. This country is currently estimated to need over 10,000 new cellular towers in the next few years to meet the Ministry of Communications’ national plan for quality communication services.’

In a related development, Tower One Wireless also announced that one of its Colombian subsidiaries has received approval to begin construction of ten new tower sites for an unnamed MNO. The firm also noted that one of the MNO’s affiliate tower companies had decided to cease tower builds in the country, which Tower One Wireless believes will lead to new business for its own unit.

American Tower Corporation (ATC) is reportedly considering a bid for Spanish tower firm Cellnex, should the proposed takeover of the Barcelona-based firm’s largest shareholder Abertis by Italian infrastructure provider Atlantia go ahead, Bloomberg cites people familiar with the matter as saying. To simplify the acquisition, Abertis is planning to reduce its stake in Cellnex from 34% to below the 30% threshold to avoid triggering a buyout for the remaining shares: under Spanish law, a shareholder that purchases more than 30% of a company must make an offer for full ownership of that company. A spokesperson for Cellnex was quoted as saying: ‘Cellnex management has not had any type of contact with American Tower over any sort of possible deal.’

The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU’s financial arm, has agreed to provide EUR24 million (USD26.8 million) to bankroll an Africa Mobile Networks (AMN) project to deploy 1,000 solar-powered mobile towers in remote rural areas of Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The funds will be drawn from the Impact Financing Envelope, which the EIB describes as being intended for initiatives with a high financial risk, but a higher potential impact for local populations. In a statement, the EIB noted that the AMN-led rollout ‘marks a significant step in improving the financial inclusion of people living in vulnerable and remote communities, with a particular focus on women, health and banking services,’ adding that 750 of the sites will be deployed in the North and South Kivu regions of DRC, ‘conflict-torn areas of the eastern DRC, where improved communications will increase security for remote and vulnerable villages there.’

German telecoms group Deutsche Telekom (DT) is planning to sell a 49% stake in its tower infrastructure subsidiary Deutsche Funkturm (DFMG) by the end of the year, Wirtschafts Woche writes. DT will keep the remaining 51% to retain majority and management control of the unit. The operator reportedly valued DFMG’s approximately 27,000 tower sites at up to EUR5 billion.

Indian towerco group the Tower and Infrastructure Providers Association (TAIPA) has appealed to the government to allow infrastructure providers to participate in an inter-ministerial group (IMG) investigating the telecom sector’s financial woes. The TAIPA argues that it lacks policy support and has several issues to bring to the table, most notably relating to taxation: the association claims that its members have been subject to ‘coercive actions such as sealing of towers, disconnection of power supply, nuisance at sites, use of force and damage to telecom sites’ over property tax demands.

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Argentina, Cameroon, Colombia, Congo, Dem. Rep., Germany, India, Spain, Africa Mobile Networks (AMN), American Tower Corporation (ATC), Deutsche Funkturm (DFMG), Deutsche Telekom (DT), Tower One Wireless

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