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American Tower flogs more of its European business

The latest deal in the action-packed telecoms towers sector sees asset manager Allianz Capital Partners taking a half-billion-euro stake in American Tower’s European division.

Both companies are pitching it as a partnership, but it’s hard to ignore the financial side of the transaction. Subject to regulatory approvals, Allianz Capital Partners will purchase a 10% stake in ATC Europe for €530 million, valuing the business as a whole at €8.8 billion.

Allianz will join Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) in a long-term strategic partnership with American Tower, the companies said, in a joint statement.

Indeed, American Tower brought in Canada’s CDPQ as a financial investor and strategic partner just over a month ago, making no secret of the fact that the money raised from the deal would help it fund its €7.7 billion acquisition of Telefonica’s Telxius towers businesses in Europe and Latin America; both of those deals closed earlier this month, incidentally.

The Allianz and CDPQ deals come in at around the same price; CDPQ agreed to pay three times as much as Allianz, but in return for a stake three times the size. Both investors will obtain seats on the ATC Europe board and certain governance rights, but American Tower has made it clear that it will retain managerial and operational control, and day-to-day oversight of the business.

“Allianz’ global infrastructure experience, extensive European investment history and investment philosophy are an excellent match for our value creation objectives in Europe, and we look forward to growing the business together while strengthening mobile broadband access in our served markets,” said American Tower president and CEO Tom Bartlett.

“With Allianz and CDPQ as committed, long-term partners in our newly expanded European business, we are more confident than ever that we are optimally positioned to generate sustainable growth and attractive returns for many years to come,” he added.

American Tower, as its name suggests, has its roots in the Americas and generates most of its revenues there, but the Telxius deal made a huge difference to the scale of its operations in Europe, adding 20,000 towers to its portfolio in Spain and Germany. As of Q1, prior to the deal closing, American Tower had just 5,342 sites in Europe – mainly in Germany and France, but also including a handful in Poland – and generated 2.1% of its property revenue from those markets. By comparison, its US portfolio came in at north of 43,000 sites at the same date, while T-Mobile US, AT&T and Verizon between them accounted for over half of its quarterly property revenue, which was up 8% to $2.1 billion.

Those figures give something of an insight into why the investment community is keen to grab a slice of the American Tower action in Europe at present. With the firm already having agreed to part with 40% of ATC Europe, its unlikely we will see any more similar deals for now, but the market will certainly be watching its progress.

The Allianz and CDPQ deals are both slated to close in the third quarter of this year.


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