Asia-Pac telcos ready $6B in tower sales

The romance between Asia-Pac telcos and tower sell-offs continues, with more than $6 billion in assets being prepped for sale.

The most advanced is PLDT in the Philippines, which has just received six bids for the sale of 6,000 mobile towers, representing half of its tower portfolio.

PLDT chairman Manny Pangilinan told a briefing last week that the bids came from global tower companies, some in partnership with local firms, and were all above the target P50 billion (US$960 million) mark, Channel News Asia reported.

The company expects to complete the sale in the second quarter and will lease back the towers for its operations. It will retain ownership of the other 6,000 towers.

PLDT, 17% owned by NTT, reported $4.8 billion in long-term debt at the end of 2021 and debt-equity ratio of 1.83x, up from 1.56x the previous year.

Asia-Pac telcos are preparing to sell off over $6 billion in mobile towers.
 (Source: Pixabay)
Asia-Pac telcos are preparing to sell off over $6 billion in mobile towers.
(Source: Pixabay)

Meanwhile, Australian and New Zealand companies are queuing up to sell their mobile masts in the wake of last year's successful Telstra and Singtel Optus deals.

Telstra disposed of 49% of its towers business, Australia's largest, to a group of domestic funds for A$2.8 billion (see Telstra edges Optus with $2.1B tower sale). Another fund, AustralianSuper, paid A$1.9 billion for 70% of the Optus basestations (see Singtel raises $1.4B from Australian tower sale).

Australia's TPG Telecom, which formed out of a merger just two years ago, is weighing a tower sale as part of a possible demerger (see Australian court clears way for $10B Vodafone-TPG merger).

It has appointed Bank of America to help with the sale of its telco tower portfolio, which is worth an estimated A$1 billion ($733 million), according to The Australian.

Last month it announced a network sharing deal with Telstra that gives it access to 3700 Telstra regional sites and allows it to decommission 725 of its own towers (see Telstra, TPG strike ten-year network-sharing, spectrum deal).

Australia's biggest independent tower company, Axicom, is also on the sale block. Owner Macquarie Infrastructure and Assets (MIRA) expects the disposal of the company and its 2,000 sites to yield around A$4.2 billion ($3.1 billion).

Across Tasman Sea, Vodafone New Zealand has just set the wheels in motion with the appointment of financial advisers.

Vodafone NZ said it had been "actively exploring the possibility of network capital release options as part of its ongoing transformation and growth strategy for some time."

Owned by local investment firm Infratil and Canada's Brookfield Asset Management, it said it believes its basestation network, with 1487 towers covering 98% of the population, could be worth between A$1 billion and A$2 billion.

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Rival Spark appointed bankers last month to explore a partial sell-off of its towers business, Australian Financial Review reports.

It appears to be opting for the Telstra model, retaining a majority stake in the business. The review will take around six months to complete.

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— Robert Clark, contributing editor, special to Light Reading

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