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Cellnex confirms wish for €20bn deal for Deutsche Telekom’s towers

Tobias Martinez Cellnex.jpg

Cellnex Telecom is talking to Deutsche Telekom about taking over its tower business, the CEO confirmed at a meeting of investors and analysts.

Tobías Martínez (pictured) said Germany is “a very attractive market”. If a deal were done, Cellnex stands to control 163,000 towers by the end of the decade.

According to reports in late 2021, Deutsche Telekom wants to spin off its tower operation, Deutsche Funkturm, which is believes is worth €20 billion.

Reuters reported two weeks ago that bidders included Vodafone’s Vantage Towers. A consortium including KKR was interested, said the agency, which also named American Tower as well as Cellnex. Reuters said, citing an unnamed source, that Cellnex would want majority control of Deutsche Funkturm.

Now. Martínez has confirmed Cellnex’s interest. “the nationwide coverage of Deutsche Funkturn is the best one [of German tower companies]. No doubt about that,” he said.

But a deal is also important because “it means fibre to the tower densification, it means not just small cells, it’s about a new build-to-suit programme in Germany, but also data centres,” said Martínez.

If Cellnex does manage a deal with Deutsche Telekom, it would be “partnering with a strong and the largest telecom operator in Europe”, not just because of its operations in Germany but because “there are some opportunities maybe beyond of Germany”, he added.

Germany would be new territory for Barcelona-based Cellnex, which split from Spanish motorway operator Abertis in 2015. Cellnex has operations in 12 European countries, but not so far in Germany. Last year it announced plans to merge its infrastructure operations in the Netherlands with those of Deutsche Telekom. This year it sold its interest in the T-Mobile/Tele2 Netherlands joint venture to private equity firms Apax Partners and Warburg Pincus for €4 billion.

In an interview in March, Cellnex CFO José Manuel Aisa told Capacity that it has 71,000 telecoms and broadcasting towers in its portfolio, and is in the process of acquiring 57,000 more by 2030. Aisa confirmed that figure in the analyst call, saying that by 2030, Cellnex aims to control around 130,000 masts in the 12 European countries where it is currently present. That number would not include Deutsche Funkturm’s 33,400 towers in Germany.

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