Arqiva sells telecom assets for £2bn to focus on broadcast

UK broadcast and telecom transmission service outfit Arqiva has struck a deal with Cellnex for the sale of its telecoms infrastructure and related assets at an enterprise value of £2 billion.

The transaction will see about.7,400 of Arqiva’s cellular sites, including masts and towers as well as urban rooftop sites, and the right to market a further 900 or so sites across the UK, transfer to Cellnex, a pan-European tower operator with sites in the UK, Ireland, Spain, Italy, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

The acquisition continues Cellnex’s investment in the UK and follows their previously announced long-term strategic agreement with BT in June 2019, whereby Cellnex obtained the rights to operate and market 220 high towers located throughout the UK.

The sale leaves Arqiva with its broadcast infrastructure, which provides network solutions for TV and radio customers, international content owners and data network providers, with around 1,500 broadcast transmission sites in the UK and five teleports. It also retains its interests in machine-to-machine data services which provide highly secure smart meter networks for the utilities sector.

The majority of the sale proceeds will be used to pay down debt in Arqiva’s capital structure, which it said would secure the long-term sustainability and financial security of the UK’s broadcast infrastructure.

“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,” said Simon Beresford-Wylie, CEO of Arqiva.

“The majority of proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce debt, thereby providing a solid financial base for Arqiva and its shareholders to invest in the future of the UK’s terrestrial TV and radio platforms as well as its data networks and capability.The deal will see a number of colleagues transfer to Cellnex, which I am confident will be an excellent owner for the business. I am sure that it will continue to go from strength to strength under their stewardship.”

The transaction has been approved by the boards of Arqiva and Cellnex and is expected to close during the second half of next year, subject to clearance from the regulatory authorities.

Lazard is acting as sole financial advisor to Arqiva in connection with the transaction.

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