Spanish infrastructure firm Cellnex has agreed to buy the telecoms division of British rival Arqiva for £2bn, making it the largest independent operator of mobile masts in the UK.
The deal will add roughly 7,400 sites to Cellnex’s portfolio, as well as the rights to market roughly 900 additional sites across the UK serving all four mobile operators.
Read more: Arqiva owners plan break-up of company after ditching £6bn float
The agreement also grants the Spanish firm permission to use street infrastructure as locations for telecoms sites in 14 London boroughs, which the firm said was a key factor for the rollout of 5G in the capital.
Cellnex said it will finance the deal through a £2bn loan facility and cash reserves. The firm has also approved the launch of a €2.5bn (£2.2bn) rights issue.
“The Arqiva Telecoms division acquisition is a key milestone for Cellnex,” said Tobias Martinez, chief executive of Cellnex.
“Its strong UK asset-base, revenues and financial profile, combined with its long history at the heart of UK digital infrastructure, make it a perfect addition to our operations.”
Following the deal’s completion Cellnex, which is Europe’s largest independent mobile mast operator, will control roughly 53,000 sites across the continent.
The deal follows reports earlier this year that Arqiva was planning to separate its telecoms division from its TV and radio towers business as it explored a potential sale.
The Hampshire-based firm said the proceeds of the sale will be used to pay down its debt and secure the long-term sustainability of its broadcast infrastructure business.
The deal comes two years after Arqiva scrapped plans for a £6bn float on the London Stock Exchange.
Simon Beresford-Wylie, chief executive of Arqiva, said “This agreement provides both stability and a focus for our future as we concentrate on the provision of broadcast infrastructure, end-to-end networks and connectivity solutions for our TV and radio customers, international content owners, data network providers and utilities.”
Mobile masts have become a lucrative source of income in recent years as telecoms companies battle fierce competition in their consumer divisions.
Read more: Vodafone shares rise as it mulls stock market float for mobile mast business
In June Vodafone announced plans to spin off its mobile masts business into a new company, with a potential stock market flotation in the pipeline.
Cellnex has previously signed an agreement with BT that gave it the rights to operate and market 220 towers across the UK.
Main image credit: Getty
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