Cellnex CEO riles Telecom Italia

telecommunications tower on mountain top

Telecom Italia has released a statement declaring the company is not experiencing liquidity problems, a claim which was apparently made by Cellnex CEO Tobias Martinez.

The exchange is related to INWIT, which owns, operates and leases roughly 11,500 wireless towers in Italy, and is 60% owned by Telecom Italia. Cellnex teamed up with Italian infrastructure fund F2i, with the consortium entering into discussions with the telco to acquire INWIT in a $3.4 billion deal. According to Martinez the deal is now on hold.

“That is something that Telecom Italia would have to officially clarify, but on our side what we understand is that this project is not going ahead,” said Martinez to reporters following the company’s annual shareholder meeting, according to Reuters.

“This does not mean that (Telecom Italia) has abandoned (the sale) because they have not signalled that clearly. So what we are doing is working on executing our expansion plan regardless of the decision that Telecom Italia may or may not take on INWIT”

While it would appear Martinez is attempting to stoke the fire and move the deal along, Telecom Italia has seemingly taken offence to comments, believing the statement to be related to their liquidity status.

“In relation to the statements made today by the CEO of Cellnex Martinez, Telecom Italia specifies that, contrary to what has been implied, the Group does not have liquidity problems as, in 2015, the operating cash flow amounted to 2 billion euros and the liquidity margin at 31 March 2016 amounted to 10.4 billion euros, allowing the financial commitments to be covered until 2019,” the telco said in a statement.

As Telecom Italia would appear to be in a strong financial position, the telco has declared it will take as much time as it wants before making a decision on the sale.

Cellnex has been on a mission to expand its footprint across Europe in recent years, investing more than € 1 billion in growth projects since 2014. Projects including TowerCo in 2014, Galata in 2015 and CommsCon in 2016 are all based in Italy, a strategic target for the business. The country currently accounts for 28% of the company’s total revenues.

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