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Vodafone looks to sell billion dollar mobile towers

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The telecommunications giant Vodafone New Zealand is exploring the potential sale of its mobile towers.

Exterior shots of Vodafone's office in Chch

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

It said a market engagement process was already underway, with financial services firms Barrenjoey and UBS tasked with advising Vodafone.

Vodafone has the largest tower portfolio in New Zealand, with 1487 wholly owned mobile towers spread across the country, covering 98 percent of the population.

Bloomberg reported the portfolio could potentially be valued at up to $1.5 billion.

Vodafone told the share market through the infrastructure investment firm Infratil, that a sale would mean its customers “will benefit from a more focused investment on the active mobile network assets”.

Infratil owns half of Vodafone NZ, with Canada’s Brookfield Asset Management owning the other half.

The announcement followed a recent Infratil investor update, which said Vodafone was exploring the “possibility of network capital release options” .

Vodafone said the sale would only include its “passive mobile infrastructure assets”, which included the physical tower, masts and poles, foundations, fencing and access facilities, and any associated contractual rights to occupy the site area.

It said it did not include active assets, such as the spectrum, core mobile network, radio network or back-haul.

“Vodafone New Zealand is committed to building additional sites to maintain its relative coverage and capacity position in the future. The FY23 forecast EBITDA is $51 million,” the company said.

It said other benefits of the sale included “more specialised passive infrastructure ownership and stronger incentives to co-locate on common tower assets, in turn driving better capital efficiency and reduced environmental impacts”.

“As the necessary infrastructure to support digital economies grows in importance, and as telecommunications companies look to unlock value that can be reinvested, separate ownership of passive mobile tower assets has become increasingly common.”

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