An Australian consortium agreed to acquire a 49 per cent interest in Telstra’s tower business for AUD2.8 billion ($2.1 billion), with the operator entering a 15-year agreement to secure access to existing and new towers.

The consortium comprising the Future Fund, Commonwealth Superannuation and Sunsuper will become a strategic partner in InfraCo Towers, which owns about 8,200 towers, Telstra stated. The operator will maintain majority ownership of the unit and continue to own the active parts of its network including the radio access equipment and spectrum assets.

Telstra CEO Andrew Penn said its objective in seeking a strategic partner has been to maximise overall value for shareholders and maintain control of the assets. “I am pleased we have been able to achieve that ahead of schedule through this transaction.”

The deal is expected be completed in the third quarter. The transaction values InfraCo Towers at AUD5.9 billion.

Telstra plans to invest AUD75 million from the sale to improve connectivity in regional Australia and expects to return around 50 per cent of the net proceeds to shareholders in its fiscal year ending 30 June 2022, Penn said.

The remainder will be used for debt reduction.