Telefónica appoints banks to divest subsea assets

Telefónica appoints banks to divest subsea assets

30 November 2020 | Natalie Bannerman

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Telefónica hired Société Générale and Greenhill to sell the subsea cable business part of its infrastructure subsidiary Telxius.

According to Spanish publication Cinco Dias, the move forms part of the company’s wider divestment plan and in the future further sales of Telxius’ corporate operations.

Industry experts have long believed that Telxius could be further divested in order for Telefónica to pay down more of its debts and execute on its plan restructuring the group. It also follows the sale of the company’s 10,000 mobile sites to Telefónica Deutschland for €1.5 billion in June. Prior to this, Telefónica also sold a 40% stake to KKR and a 9.99% to Pontegadea, Amancio Ortega investment company.

Speaking at a Morgan Stanley TMT conference Telefónica’s COO Ángel Vilá, said that the company was considering bringing in new investors to Telxius and reducing its 50% stake but they would of course need to speak to KKR and Pontegadea.

And only last month was quoted as saying Telxius would "contemplate all possible alternative strategies for its underwater-cable unit".

Analysts have even gone so far as to speculate that the sale of Telxius’ subsea assets could be an attempt to resume Telxius’ failed 2016 IPO in 2021, which fell flat due to investors being unsure about how to value the subsea cable part of the business.

In related news, October saw Telefónica announced plans to combine its wholesale businesses (TIWS), roaming and multinational clients under a new unit and brand: Telefónica Global Solutions.

In line with this back in November 2019, Telefónica chairman & CEO José María Álvarez-Pallete revealed the group’s new strategy to spin off company assets and prepare for industry 4.0. The 5-point plan included:

  • to prioritise Spain, Brazil, the UK and Germany, as key markets.
  • the operational spin-off of its businesses in Hispanoamérica; launch of Telefónica Tech, a newly created unit for the B2B segment focused on cybersecurity, IoT and Big Data, and cloud.
  • the creation of Telefónica Infra which will house towers, distributed antenna systems, data centres (including Edge), greenfield fibre projects and subsea cables assets.
  • and evolve its operating model to increase agility, speed up execution and maximise synergies between all Telefónica units.