Wednesday, 08 April 2020

Vodafone finalises Italy tower deal and gets US approval for TPG merger

by Harry Baldock, Total Telecom
Thursday 26 March 20

The coronavirus outbreak does not seem to be slowing down Vodafone’s dealmaking, as two major projects make progress

Unperturbed by the coronavirus upheaval, Vodafone has today announced it is following through with a couple of significant deals made on opposite sides of the world. In Italy, the deal to merge its tower holdings with INWIT, Telecom Italia (TIM)’s tower subsidiary, has been approved by the regulator and is ready to take effect on the 31st of March…

Unperturbed by the coronavirus upheaval, Vodafone has today announced it is following through with a couple of significant deals made on opposite sides of the world.

In Italy, the deal to merge its tower holdings with INWIT, Telecom Italia (TIM)’s tower subsidiary, has been approved by the regulator and is ready to take effect on the 31st of March. 

The merger represents the creation of Italy’s largest tower company, worth around €10 billion. Both Vodafone and TIM are going to own an initial 37.5% stake in the business, though reports say that this may be reduced to just 25% each as time goes on.

The merger also incorporates a 5G sharing agreement between the two operators that will come into affect on the same date, ultimately representing a large saving for both operators when it comes to 5G RAN deployment.

This news will be something of a sour pill for local rival Iliad, who notably opposed this merger on anti-trust grounds, especially after it recently sold the majority of its own tower infrastructure to giant Cellnex at the end of last year.

Meanwhile, the AUS$15 billion Vodafone Hutchison Australia merger with TPG has received the go-ahead from the US regulators, almost a month after the Australian authorities agreed to the deal. While it might seem strange that the US authorities were involved in this process, TPG explained that this was due to one of TPG’s subsea cables passing through Guam.

"The consents permit the proposed change of control relating to TPG's submarine cable between Sydney and Guam,” explained the Australian operator. “TPG is continuing to work towards meeting the remaining regulatory conditions so as to complete the merger with VHA [Vodafone Hutchison Australia] in mid-2020.”

Following the merger, the new entity, which will retain the TPG name, will be 50.1% owned by Vodafone Australia shareholders, while TPG will retain the remaining 49.9%.

The deal still has a few more hurdles to jump before it can truly come into effect – such as approval from shareholders and the Australian Foreign Investment Review Board – but these seem something of a given at this point in the process. 

Vodafone Australia launched its commercial 5G network earlier this month and will presumably be chomping at the bit to get its hands on TPG’s 700MHz spectrum once the deal is completed. 

 

Also in the news:
Sell, sell, sell! BT to offload French operations
Operators agree to share anonymised data with EU to help track COVID-19
Facebook wants a multibillion-dollar piece of Reliance Jio

 

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