Cellnex sees US companies following its lead in Europe

Cellnex catalysing US tower moves in Europe

26 APR 2021

Spanish tower operator Cellnex claimed to have started a trend US companies are now following, by buying infrastructure from European operators looking for ways to cash in on their assets.

Product strategy and innovation director Jose Antonio Aranda Legazpe told Mobile World Live (MHL) Cellnex “has been the catalyser. Following our strategy others have joined”.

Since 2015, Cellnex has been buying towers across Europe. The company now owns 71,000, and says the number swells to 128,000 when it includes acquisitions not yet closed and build-to-suit obligations.

American Tower is the most prominent example of a US company which appears to be following a similar strategy in Europe.

Early this year, the company agreed to purchase Telxius Towers from Telefonica for $9.4 billion, saying the move would make it one of Europe’s largest independent communications infrastructure providers.

Focus on fibre
In addition to towers, investors in European telecoms infrastructure are increasingly focused on fibre.

“As 5G becomes reality there is a need to connect all our towers with fibre because of the amount of traffic that we will need to extract on behalf of the MNOs out of that tower”, said Legazpe. 

Cellnex says it is investing in fibre deployments and US companies are rushing to get in on the action as well.

In 2020, private equity giant KKR spent €1.8 billion to buy a 38 per cent stake in FiberCop, an entity formed by Telecom Italia to own its fibre assets and the cables connecting its network to homes.

More recently, KKR bought a majority stake in Open Dutch Fiber in the Netherlands.

In January 2021, a company backed by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure Partners agreed to pay at least €475 million for fibre network operator Tele Columbus which the company stated would go towards expanding its network.

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Martha DeGrasse

Freelance tech journalist Martha DeGrasse (@mardegrasse) is delighted to be contributing to Mobile World Live. Martha has written for a number of telecom and wireless publications, and was a writer, editor and video producer at RCR Wireless News for almost...

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