Arqiva responsible for the UK's television and radio transmitter towers, four Freeview multiplexes and numerous DAB multiplexes is up for sale. Its chief executive, telecoms industry veteran Simon Beresford-Wylie, is targeting growth in the mobile market as revenues from broadcasting are in long, slow decline. Today the company has a near monopoly over UK transmission towers.
The sales tag for Arqiva, currently owned by a consortium including investment bank Macquarie and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, is estimated to be between £5bn and £6bn.
The move signals that hopes of a stock market float have been abandoned. Complications surrounding a £3bn debt pile are thought to have made a public offering unfeasible, sources said according to The Telegraph.
The sale is expected to attract interest from consortiums of foreign infrastructure investor. They are likely to include Chinese funds, sources said, potentially raising questions over Arqiva’s status as an owner of critical national infrastructure. Chinese ownership of vital British infrastructure is now viewed as politically sensitive.
Arqiva is also likely to draw interest from companies that specialise in operating communications masts, a sector undergoing consolidation across Europe. A bidder might be Spain’s Cellnex, one of Europe’s biggest mobile mast owners. It is expected that Britain will need thousands more mobile masts to cope with demand for internet access on the move and the shift to the 5G technology.
Bidders tune into sale of £6bn mast monopoly Arqiva (The Telegraph)