The new European trend to sell off telecoms passive infrastructure continues apace with the news that Telefonica is close to a deal to sell off 10,000 sites in Germany currently owned by its O2 Deutschland subsidiary to Telxius in a deal said to be worth EUR1.5 billion. If the deal goes through it will increase the sites managed by Telxius by 50% – from 20,257 to 30,257.
The deal though is not exactly as it may seem at first glance. While mobile operators are selling off infrastructure to pay down debt and finance new network build out, there has been a strong tradition of JVs and operator-owned towers in Europe. So it’s worth noting that Telxius is jointly owned by Telefonica. Telefonica also announced a 5-point plan in November 2019 which stated that its infrastructure would be combined into a new entity – Telefonica Infra – of which Telxius will become the first asset. Telefonica said its Infra unit will develop towers, distributed antenna systems, data centres, Edge computing, greenfield fibre projects and subsea cables.
This deal would include a lease back arrangement and encompasses future build out in Germany. O2 Deutschland is obliged to rapidly expand its tower footprint in order to meet targets set by the German government after it recently acquired spectrum.
The news also comes at the same time that Telefonica announced it is to sell its Microwave Radiolink portfolio to Asterion.