PLDT cited myriad benefits for its own and broader Filipino government digitalisation goals from a massive deal to offload close to 6,000 towers and related passive infrastructure to divisions of edotco and EdgePoint Infrastructure.

It agreed the sale and leaseback of 5,907 towers for PHP77 billion ($1.5 billion) in a deal PLDT stated is the largest ever offloading of assets to international companies. ISOC edotco Towers is taking on 2,973 towers mostly situated in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, with EdgePoint Infrastructure subsidiary Comworks Infratech picking up 2,934.

Bloomberg previously reported the latter would acquire sites in capital city Manilla.

PLDT’s mobile business Smart secured an anchor tenancy spanning a decade: there is also a commitment to add 1,500 towers “over the next few years”.

Manuel Pangilinan, PLDT chair, hailed the deal as “another milestone” in the company’s “strategic transformation”.

“We expect to reap benefits in terms of a valuation uplift and capital reallocation, with PLDT applying the proceeds to deleverage, further invest in the network and return cash to shareholders via a special dividend.”

The operator noted the transaction also benefits a Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) “goal of improving tower density”, in turn boosting connectivity across the Philippines. PLDT was quick to back a government plan to open the infrastructure sector to independent companies issued in 2019.

It added securing international investment was also testament to the Philippines’ recovery from the Covid-19 (coronavirus) pandemic and “long-term growth prospects”.

PLDT aims to close the first transactions next month and conclude the deal by the year-end. It expects the move to be “earnings accretive” within the first year after completion.