What’s up with… Vantage Towers, TIM, Ryan Ding

  • Bidders line up for a slice of Vantage Towers
  • Italian broadband merger talks look to have hit a stalemate
  • Huawei carrier business group chief Ryan Ding passes away

In today’s industry news roundup: Passive infrastructure giants and investment firms line up to bid for a slice of Vodafone’s Vantage Towers; broadband network M&A negotiations in Italy reach a critical stage; Huawei’s Ryan Ding has passed away; and more. 

Major tower companies are circling Vodafone-owned Vantage Towers with a view to bidding for a stake in the company, according to Bloomberg. Vodafone currently holds an 82% stake in Vantage, which was floated on the Frankfurt exchange last year, but it has been looking for ways to diversify the ownership of the passive infrastructure company through some kind of merger and acquisition or investment deal as part of its asset revamp plans. Now, according to Bloomberg, tower infrastructure giants American Tower Corp (ATC) and Cellnex are among those expected to bid either by themselves or as part of a consortium as soon as this week for a slice of the Vantage Towers pie. But it’s unlikely they will be the only ones interested: A report from late September suggested private equity firms, such as KKR, Global Infrastructure Partners and Sweden's EQT, could also get involved in the bidding process to invest in Vantage Towers. 

Telecom Italia (TIM) has reported that the evaluation period for the merger of its fixed line assets with those of rival wholesale broadband network operator Open Fiber has been extended, following requests from Open Fiber and its stakeholders, Italy’s state lender CDP Equity and infrastructure investor Macquarie. Further negotiations regarding the deal will be held this week. TIM noted that private equity firm KKR, which holds a stake in the Italian national operator’s fixed access network unit, is “aligned with TIM” on the discussions, but interestingly there is no mention in the announcement of Vivendi, the French media giant that is TIM’s single largest shareholder and which has previously said it won’t approve any deal that values TIM’s fixed network assets at less than €31bn, about 50% higher than the valuation discussed by the other parties involved. This doesn’t look like a deal that’s going to close any time soon. 

We’re sorry to be reporting the passing of one of the telecom networking industry’s most familiar faces, Huawei’s Ryan Ding. Reports from China suggest Ding, 53, passed away suddenly following a long-distance run. Ding, who was head of the Chinese vendor’s carrier business and enterprise technology groups, was a pivotal figure in Huawei’s growth in the mobile networking sector and was always gracious and pleasant when engaging with an audience, small groups during media briefings and during one-to-one interviews. TelecomTV sends its condolences and best wishes to Ding’s family, friends and colleagues.  

India’s largest mobile operator Reliance Jio is in talks with international banks to secure a loan facility of up to $2.5bn to help it buy 5G gear from Ericsson and Nokia, reports the Business Standard. Jio, which plans to invest $25bn in its next-generation mobile infrastructure, has just launched its beta 5G services in ​​four cities – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Varanasi – ahead of a broader launch later this month and nationwide 5G coverage by the end of 2023 – see India’s Jio to splash $25bn on achieving nationwide 5G coverage by end of 2023

Amith Maharaj, group technology executive at pan-African operator MTN Group has joined the Telecom Infra Project (TIP) board of directors. “MTN has been a great contributor since it joined TIP in 2016,” noted Yago Tenorio, chairman of TIP, and network architecture director and fellow at Vodafone Group. “From its leadership in several project groups and other TIP initiatives, including DCSG, MUST, OpenWiFi and OpenRAN, MTN is a trailblazer of open and disaggregated technologies in Africa and globally,” added Tenorio. Maharaj noted in the announcement about his appointment to the board that MTN sees TIP as a critical part in realising our strategic intent of leading digital solutions for Africa’s progress forums, such as TIP”. The TIP community is set to meet in Madrid later this month (25-27 October) at the Fyuz event: As an official video partner, TelecomTV will be there, so come and say hello!

T-Mobile Netherlands, which was sold to private equity firms Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus by Deutsche Telekom and Tele2 earlier this year, has bolstered its fixed line portfolio with the acquisition of Cambrium, a broadband network operator better known by its brand name Tweak, which has 18,000 customers. T-Mobile Netherlands has also struck a new wholesale agreement with Open Dutch Fiber that will give it access to the footprint of the recently-acquired E-Fiber, which currently passes 175,000 premises but is due to expand to 500,000. T-Mobile has a long way to go, though, before it has the fixed broadband scale and reach of national incumbent KPN and altnet Delta FiberRead more.  

Not for the first time, Japanese giant NTT has shuffled its international communications and IT services pack by combining two existing group companies, NTT Data and NTT Ltd, to form a single entity that will provide a broad range of support to enterprise users outside Japan. The new outfit, NTT Data Inc, which generates revenues of about $30bn per year and has 140,000 staff, offers a  range of business and technology consulting, industry solutions, application and digital services, edge-to-cloud infrastructure, BPO, systems integration, and global datacentres. "This new beginning enables us to accelerate growth outside of Japan. Together we will connect people and technology to create a more sustainable future," noted Kaz Nishihata, CEO at NTT Data Inc. "We will continue to focus on clients and people first as we transform our company to deliver a full stack of innovative services." Read more.

- The staff, TelecomTV

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