Singtel agreed a deal to sell a 70 per cent stake in Australia Tower Network (ATN), raising AUD1.9 billion ($1.4 billion), which will be used to fund the Singapore-based operator’s 5G rollout and other growth initiatives.

In a statement, Singtel detailed a deal to sell the ATN stake to AustralianSuper, an investment fund which will take control of 2,312 mobile network towers and rooftop sites.

The towers are currently used by Australian operator Optus and terms of the deal provide continued access under a long-term lease agreement with ATN.

Optus will also be the anchor tenant on 565 new towers built over the next three years which form an integral part of its 5G network.

Singtel explained in May it would conduct a strategic revamp of its business, including a restructure of its telecoms infrastructure assets including mobile towers.

In 2020 Singtel played down media reports suggesting it was preparing the sale of its Australian tower assets, but it did state it at the time it regularly reviews its options to optimise assets.

Singtel will use the proceeds to enhance cash flow and balance sheet flexibility, while considering the rollout of 5G and expanding its B2B digital services business in Singapore and Australia.

It will retain a 30 per cent stake in ATN, but the towers will be managed by AustralianSuper, “forming the largest independent tower company of scale”.

Completion of the deal is expected later this month, upon customary closing conditions.

Data centre business
Separately, Singtel announced it had teamed with Thai power and utility company Gulf Energy and Telkom Indonesia to create a regional data centre business.

The trio plan to form a regional digital platform to “capture new growth opportunities” in Asia.