Vodafone floats phone towers unit in Frankfurt

LONDON: The logo of British mobile phone giant Vodafone welcomes visitors at their retail shop in central London. Vodafone yesterday announced German stock market flotation of its towers business, valuing the unit at up to 14.7 billion euros ($17.4 billion). – AFP

FRANKFURT: The phone masts unit of British telecoms giant Vodafone made its debut on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange yesterday, in a flotation that values the business at around 12 billion euros ($14.3 billion). Ahead of the 09:15 am (0815 GMT) opening bell, shares in Vodafone’s Vantage Towers arm were priced at 24 euros each, at the lower end of the 22.50 to 29 euro range initially announced.

The initial public offering is Europe’s largest of the year so far and is set to raise between 2.1 and nearly 3.0 billion euros for parent company Vodafone. It comes amid increasing demand for mobile telecommunications connectivity across Europe, driven by data growth, 5G rollout and regulatory coverage obligations. Mobile phone giants are also floating or selling off their tower businesses in order to slash debt.

Duesseldorf-headquartered Vantage Towers, which was spun off from Vodafone in 2020, has a portfolio that includes 82,000 macro sites-towers, masts and rooftops-across 10 European countries. Vodafone plans to use the proceeds of the listing to reduce its debt pile, estimated at around 44 billion euros by Interactive Investor analyst Richard Hunter.

Vodafone said last month that no new shares will be sold in the offering, only some of the existing ones held by Vodafone GmbH. Digital Colony, a digital infrastructure investor and operator based in the US, has agreed to be a cornerstone investor in the IPO, alongside RRJ, a global equity fund based in Singapore, with commitments of 500 million euros and 450 million euros, respectively.

Earlier this year, heavily-indebted Telefonica agreed to sell its telephone masts in Europe and Latin America to US-based telecom infrastructure firm American Towers for 7.7 billion euros. The Spanish group said it would use the proceeds to cut debt by 4.6 billion euros. – AFP

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