Report: Deutsche Telekom mulls options for mobile towers

Deutsche Telekom could become the next operator in Europe to sell off its mobile tower assets, after reports suggested the German company is considering various options for its infrastructure assets.

Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg said options on the table include a possible spinoff or initial public offering (IPO) that could value the assets at billions of dollars. It is also possible that no action could be taken.

Company spokesman Andreas Leigers told Bloomberg that "Deutsche Telekom is aware of what some of our competitors are doing in this respect, and we are considering what could make sense for us and what not."

The German operator is said to be closely monitoring a similar move by Spanish rival Telefónica, which recently created a new business unit called Telxius for the management of its mobile towers and submarine optical fibre network and also said the unit could also be listed in future. The Spain-based operator has around 15,000 mobile towers in Spain and other markets.

A recent report by TowerXchange, which specialises in research into the telecoms tower industry, also highlighted the growing trend among operators in Europe to hive off and divest their mobile towers.

The research company predicted that around 23 per cent of European mobile towers could end up under the ownership of independent tower companies this year. As things stand, independent companies own 18 per cent of Europe's 600,000 sites.

This trend is also evident in Africa, where only this week pan-African mobile towers group IHS agreed to buy Nigerian rival Helios Towers Nigeria (HTN) for an undisclosed sum.

Reuters reported that IHS would acquire 1,211 towers spread across 34 of Nigeria's 36 states, with the deal expected to close in the second quarter of 2016. IHS already has 15,000 towers in Nigeria, its biggest market. Across Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Zambia and Rwanda it has around 23,000 towers.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article

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