Smart Communications Inc. CellsiteNews

PLDT sells towers to Aboitiz-backed firm for P9 billion

Philippine integrated telco, PLDT Inc., Smart Communications, and Digitel Mobile have signed a Sale and Purchase Agreement in connection with the sale of 650 telecommunications towers and associated passive telecommunications infrastructure for approximately P9.2 billion to Unity Digital Infrastructure Inc. (Unity).

Backed by Aboitiz InfraCapital and Partners Group, a global private markets investment firm (acting on behalf of its clients), Unity is an established independent tower company in the Philippines and an existing partner of the PLDT Group. The 650 towers being monetized are primarily located in the Visayas and Mindanao.

“This transaction deepens our relationship with Unity and its shareholders, while allowing PLDT to further unlock value, and providing us with additional financial and operational flexibility as we further expand across the Philippines,” said Manuel V. Pangilinan, chair, PLDT.

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Sale and leaseback

Concurrent with the execution of the Sale and Purchase Agreement for the sale of 650 telecommunications towers, Smart also entered into a Master Services Agreement with Unity on similar terms (including tenor and lease rate) as the Master Services Agreements previously entered into by Smart in relation to the sale and leaseback transactions announced in April 2022. Upon completion of the transaction, Smart will lease back the towers for a period of 10 years at competitive terms as the anchor tenant. The sale and leaseback will be complemented by a new tower build commitment of 220 towers over the next few years enabling Smart to further expand its network and enhance customer experience.

“We believe that, through these digital portfolio expansion initiatives, Aboitiz will be able to help address the gaps in connectivity and Internet access in the country,” said Sabin Aboitiz, president and CEO, Aboitiz Group. “It also positions us as a leader in digital infrastructure, which greatly contributes to our goal of becoming the Philippines’ first techglomerate.”

Closing of the transaction will be staggered based on the number of towers being transferred and subject to customary closing conditions. All closings are expected to be completed in 2023.