Deutsche Telekom said to mull sale of German mobile masts

Deutsche Telekom could become the next European operator to sell off mobile masts in its domestic market, following a trend that has seen thousands of masts transferred into the ownership of independent tower companies.

Reuters reported that the German operator is preparing to sell its masts via an auction that could raise up to €5 billion ($5.5 billion) for further network investments. Citing unnamed sources, the news agency said Deutsche Telekom had appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to organise the auction, which the sources said is scheduled for the autumn. None of the companies confirmed the report.

Deutsche Telekom, which in 2012 sold its U.S. towers business to Crown Castle, would join European peers such as Telefónica and Telecom Italia if it did decide to hive off and then sell its domestic towers business.

Telefónica has already created a separate tower unit called Telxius and was expected to list the unit this month, although the initial public offering (IPO) may now be delayed because of the upheaval caused by the recent decision by the UK to leave the European Union.

The Spain-based operator said around 15,000 towers in Spain and other countries and its 31,000 km submarine cable would initially be brought into the unit. In April, Telefónica Deutschland also said it planned to sell almost all of its mobile towers to Telxius, receiving €587 million for 2,350 towers.

A recent report by TowerXchange, which specialises in research into the telecoms tower industry, predicted that independent tower companies would own 48 per cent of European mobile towers by 2020.

"The recent carve out of Telefónica's 11,000 towers into subsidiary, Telxius, the imminent sale of Telecom Italia's infrastructure unit, Inwit, combined with the commencement of VimpelCom's process to divest its towers across Russia and the CIS are just some of the key transactions accounting for this change in ownership," TowerXchange observed in April.

For more:
- see this Reuters article

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