Cellnex adds Switzerland to European tower crusade with Sunrise purchase

telecommunications tower on mountain top

Telecoms infrastructure company Cellnex has bought 2,239 towers in Switzerland from Sunrise, as part of an investment consortium.

Sunrise is apparently strapped for cash so it packaged up its towers into a company called, appropriately enough, Swiss Towers AG, and flogged it to a consortium headed up by Cellnex. Swiss Life Asset Managers and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners are minority partners in the deal, which cost them €430 million.

Cellnex was spun out of Spanish infrastructure company Abertis a couple of years ago and apparently has a strategy of conquering Europe one country at a time. As you can see from the diagram below it now has a significant presence in much of Western Europe and is moving east with grim determination.

Cellnex map

“Like all other major European countries, the industry in Switzerland is facing the challenge of meeting the significant growth in mobile data consumption and transmission by incorporating new technologies based on small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS), which in the medium term will mean densifying networks by rolling out new equipment in parallel with reducing the overlap of some of the already rolled out networks, essentially 2G and 3G,” said Cellnex Telecom CEO Tobias Martinez, who is apparently not a fan of full stops.

Sunrise isn’t going to have much fun with the cash, however, as most of it is earmarked to pay down debt in a bid to improve its current poor credit rating. The remaining €20 million or so will be spent on network investment.

“We are absolutely proud to be the first Swiss Operator to enter such a partnership,” said Olaf Swantee, CEO of Sunrise. “It enables us to continue our network and innovation leadership. The new partnership will enable us to focus even stronger on the key differentiating elements of our active network infrastructure to deliver the defect-free network and set new industry standards in the Swiss mobile market.”

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