HomeFinancial/RegulationVodafone seeks buyer for Vantage Towers

    Vodafone seeks buyer for Vantage Towers


    Cutting mast may help Vodafone navigate storm

    Vodafone is looking to sell off its phone mast division with KKRGlobal Infrastructure Partners and EQT Group all preparing their bids, according to a report by This is Money. The report said the momentum for the sale was created by the involvement of telecoms titan Xavier Niel who bought a 2.5 per cent stake in the UK mobile operator last week, news of which inspired a rise in its stock market price. 

    The £12bn sale of  Vantage Towers could clear the company’s debt and inspire confidence in the brand after its stock fell 14 per cent in the last six months. In August, Vodafone signalled that it was to start tackling its debt by selling off its Hungarian unit for £1.53bn (€1.8bn) to local tech company 4iG and government-backed Corvinus Zrt

    Selling the tower company Vantage would cut Vodafone’s debt by £2.2bn and provide £6bn in cash, analyst firm Bernstein said. From this, report author This is Money reasoned that the most likely option for a Tower sale would be a ‘co-control’ deal, where Vodafone would sell half the holding to a private equity firm. In July ME reported that this is how Deutsche Telekom (DT) is structuring the proposed sales of its tower company sale Deutsche Funkturm (DFMG). 

    The Vantage sale rumours have emerged after Niel’s Atlas Investissement said in a filing on Monday that it saw “opportunities to accelerate both the streamlining of Vodafone’s footprint and the separation of its infrastructure assets,” including cost cutting and a greater push for profitability. Niel, founder and owner of the telecoms giant Iliad, confirmed that he backed Vodafone’s strategy for consolidation in the UK and Italy, which has also been pushed by Swedish activist investor Cevian Capital.

    Enders Analysis’ Karen Egan told City A.M. that Niel’s swoop for Vodafone was undoubtedly driven by his own firm’s failed bid to buy Vodafone’s Italian unit for more than €11bn (£9.6bn) in February. Shareholder frustration compelled him to force changes. Niel’s peer, Vodafone chief Nick Read, has been pressurised by shareholders and is on a mission to streamline the company’s operations.