UK operator Virgin Media O2 (VMO2) agreed to sell an almost 16.7 per cent share of joint venture Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure to a partnership of local pension funds for £360 million.

Under the agreement, buyer GLIL Infrastructure will take the stake in Cornerstone by buying a third of the holding company which controls Virgin Media O2’s (VMO2) half of the tower venture.

After the deal completes, VMO2 will own 33.3 per cent share in Cornerstone with JV partner Vodafone subsidiary Vantage Towers holding 50 per cent.

VMO2 and Vantage will continue to control the UK infrastructure player jointly.

The deal is expected to close in the coming weeks.

VMO2 CEO Lutz Schuler said the sale is a logical move, “partially monetising our tower infrastructure, while retaining operational and strategic co-control in a key asset as we roll-out 5G to more of the country and boost 4G connectivity”.

The move comes as little surprise, with regular media reports speculating on the future of the asset. In April, Financial Times reported VMO2 was scoping-out potential buyers for some of its stake.  

Cornerstone was formed by UK mobile operators Vodafone and Telefonica in 2012, and now owns and manages an estate of 20,000 sites across the country.

In 2021, Vodafone transferred its half to Vantage Towers and Telefonica joined forces with Virgin Media to form VMO2, taking its Cornerstone stake with it.