- Vodafone’s towers spin-off set to list shares
- Reported valuation of €15 billion
- European towers market set for further M&A action
Vantage Towers, Vodafone’s neutral host spin-off that aims to be a '5G superhost', is to float a minority stake on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange before the end of March, the company announced today.
Financial details weren’t shared by the company, but Bloomberg, citing sources with knowledge of the plans, said the listing of existing shares would value the towers company at about €15 billion.
Vantage’s towers portfolio currently comprises 82,000 macro sites in 10 markets across Europe, with more to be added: 19,400 of the current macro sites are in Germany and are fully-owned by Vantage, while 22,100 in Italy are co-owned through its 33.2% stake in INWIT (Infrastrutture Wireless Italiane) and 14,200 are in the UK courtesy of its 50% stake in Cornerstone, which transferred to Vantage from Vodafone UK in January. (See Vantage Towers aims to be ‘5G superhost’.)
It reported revenues of €723 million for the nine months to 31 December and earnings before various costs but after lease payments of €394 million.
"The IPO is an important milestone and sets the foundations for the next stage of our growth within the dynamic towers industry. We will be looking to capture the exciting value-creating opportunities the sector has to offer and to build on our position as a leading tower infrastructure company in Europe. With our superior grid, inflation-linked revenue - secured for the long term - and our strong balance sheet, we have a powerful base to move forward and support our customers' need for better and more extensive connectivity across the continent."
What will be interesting to discover post-IPO is how much of the raised capital will be made available for acquisitions. Vantage already has a large towers portfolio and plans to build more than 7,000 more during the next five years, but scale is key to the financial success of such operations and growth through M&A activity will be key to the company’s strategy.
Vantage’s main rival, Cellnex, has already shown how acquisitions can transform a neutral host company and it’s like that others, including American Tower, will also be on the hunt for assets to snap up and add to their existing portfolios.
It’s unclear currently whether Totem, Orange’s just-announced towers spin-off, plans to open its cheque book for inorganic growth too, but the pool of available macro site assets will be limited: Expect 2021 and 2022 to be awash with European tower announcements.
- Ray Le Maistre, Editorial Director, TelecomTV
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