Cellnex invests €80m in French Bouygues towers

11 July 2016 |


Cellnex Telecom has reached an agreement to acquire 230 telecommunication towers from Bouygues Telecom in France.

Cellnex Telecom has reached an agreement to acquire 230 telecommunication towers from Bouygues Telecom in France. The company is initially investing €80m in the French market.

The agreement signed today includes a second phase, expected to close soon to expand the total number of sites that can be acquired under this agreement to 500.

The agreement with Bouygues Telecom involves the acquisition and integration of 230 telecom towers for wireless data transmission and mobile telephony. With an investment of €80m euros, it opens a path of long-term collaboration with one of the leading mobile operators in France. The acquisition of this portfolio of towers is accompanied by a contract that spans 20 years to provide services to Bouygues.

The towers are spread throughout France, mainly in rural and suburban areas, with a small percentage in urban areas. In the second phase, expected to close in the coming months, this initial package of 230 towers could be expanded to 500. The transaction will be financed through existing credit lines.

Bouygues Telecom is the third mobile operator in France by turnover. It currently owns a portfolio of 15,000 sites. In recent years the company has launched a gradual process to separate and sell its non-core infrastructure assets, with the trend towards outsourcing and operation by neutral and independent telecommunications infrastructure operators such as Cellnex Telecom.

Cellnex CEO, Tobias Martínez, said: "The agreement with Bouygues Telecom is the beginning of a long-term collaboration with this operator of telecommunications services in France. We trust that this agreement opens the door to extend it in the future to other areas such as the construction of new towers on demand (build to suit), or the deployment of new technologies based on the ‘small cells’ for the mobile broadband extension. This deal strengthens our European scope and thus our ability for building a partnership with customers operating in different European markets  to whom we can offer  telecom connectivity solutions."

Commenting the agreement, Francisco Reynés, Cellnex’s Chairman said: "These operations consolidate the model of a neutral and independent telecommunications infrastructure operator focused on growth opportunities in Europe. This was the objective which underpinned the company's IPO one year ago: gaining flexibility and leeway in order to seize the opportunities that we understood the market could offer us and which  we are seeing confirmed with today’s deal with Bouygues, or the most recent ones with CommsCon in Italy and Protelindo in Netherlands".

The agreement provides for an extension up to 500 towers in a second phase.

In France, which enjoys a AA rating from S&P and Fitch, operators are currently rolling out 4G mobile broadband and do offer a 4G network coverage, which right now varies from about 60%  to more than 75% of the population. As in other European countries, this roll-out is taking place on the basis of existing 2G and 3G towers. 

As in the rest of Europe, improving coverage to allow mobile access to broadband content in areas with large numbers of concurrent users is one of the challenges for the future. In this regard, rolling out a higher density and more capillary network by deploying 'small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS) will constitute a growth vector in the French market over the coming years.