As mentioned in its earnings briefing earlier this year, Philippine telco PLDT sold its telco towers numbering 5,907 and related passive telecom infrastructure for P77 billion. The transaction price makes this deal the “largest-ever” acquisition of assets in the Philippines by international investors.
The winning bidders, a subsidiary of edotco Group and a subsidiary of EdgePoint (the TowerCos), are backed by international groups with experience in the telecom tower space. edotco Group manages over 54,000 towers across nine countries in Asia and is majority-owned by Axiata Group, a major telecom operator across Asia. EdgePoint, on the other hand, owns approximately 10,000 towers across Indonesia and Malaysia and is backed by DigitalBridge Group Inc., a global digital infrastructure investment firm with over $45 billion in assets under management.
“We expect to reap benefits in terms of a valuation uplift and capital reallocation with PLDT applying the proceeds to deleverage, further invest in the network, and return cash to shareholders via a special dividend,” said Mr. Manuel V. Pangilinan, chair, PLDT.
Of the 5,907 towers being monetized, 2,973 towers located primarily in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao will be acquired by ISOC edotco Towers Inc., a subsidiary of edotco Group, and 2,934 towers located in Luzon by Comworks Infratech Corp., a subsidiary of EdgePoint.
“This transaction presents a highly strategic acquisition for edotco as it diversifies and strengthens our pan-Asian platform with exposure to a nascent, high-growth market with strong governmental support,” said Adlan Tajudin, CEO of edotco Group, “With an established platform in the Philippines, edotco can play an instrumental role in developing the nation’s digital economy infrastructure while accelerating its organic and inorganic growth strategy.”
Smart has agreed to lease back the towers sold in the transaction for a period of 10 years. In addition to space, the TowerCos will also be responsible for providing operations and maintenance services as well as the power to the sites. Smart has secured competitive terms as the anchor tenant on the towers and expects to benefit from operational and capital expenditure savings. The sale and leaseback will be complemented by a new tower build commitment of 1,500 towers in total over the next few years.
The closing of the transaction will be staggered based on the number of towers being transferred, with the first closing expected in May 2022 and the last closing by Q4 2022.