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Cellnex ends first nine months with 53% growth in revenue

Cellnex Telecom has announced its results for the first nine months of 2021. Revenue was €1,760 million (+53%) and adjusted EBITDA grew to €1,334 million (+59%) reflecting the effect of consolidating the assets acquired in 2020 and the early months of 2021 and the Groups continued organic growth. Free and recurring leveraged cash flow was €660 million (+52%).

The net accounting result was negative at -€145 million due to the impact of higher amortisation (+68% Vs 9M 2020) and financial costs (+79% Vs 9M 2020) associated with the Group’s ongoing activities related to acquisitions and the consequent geographic expansion.

Tobias Martínez, CEO of Cellnex, has noted that this was “a period marked by the conclusion of several transformative acquisitions and initiatives which we announced in 2020 and in 2021. These include the new agreements in France, the Netherlands, Poland and Portugal, and a rights issue which, through the determined support of our shareholders, will allow us to continue seizing new growth opportunities. These inorganic growth opportunities coupled with achieving an organic growth in excess of 6% provides a dynamic that is reflected in an improvement of the key indicators of revenue, EBITDA and recurring cash flow. This allows us to confirm our outlook for the year of the review that we announced at the end of the first half, with revenues in excess of €2,500 million and an EBITDA of over €1,900 million”.

Business lines. Key indicators for the period

  • Infrastructure services for mobile telecommunications operators contributed 86% to revenue (€1,519 million), up 69% on 2020.
  • The broadcasting infrastructure business contributed 9% of revenue (€164 million).
  • The business focused on security and emergency networks and solutions for the intelligent management of urban infrastructures (IoT and Smart cities), contributed 4% of revenue (€77 million).
  • As at 30 September, the company’s main market is Spain, accounting for 23% of the Group’s revenue, followed by Italy, with 20% and France with 15%.
  • As at 30 September, Cellnex had a total of 89,327 operational sites: 4,490 in Austria, 1,360 in Denmark, 10,359 in Spain, 11,583 in France, 1,807 in Ireland, 20,033 in Italy, 4,065 in the Netherlands, 14,525 in Poland, 5,148 in Portugal, 7,996 in the UK, 2,610 in Sweden and 5,351 in Switzerland; in addition, there are 4,222 DAS nodes and Small Cells (c. 30% more, at constant perimeter, than in 2020).
  • The organic growth in points of presence at the sites stood at +6.5% in relation to 2020, including the effect of the roll-out of new sites during the period.
  • Total investments made in the first nine months were about €8.3 billion, mostly related to the generation of new income –incorporation of new assets and the ongoing integration and roll-out of new infrastructure– together with improvements in the efficiency and maintenance of installed capacity.

Debt structure
Cellnex has a debt structure that is flexible, owing to the various instruments used.

  • The Group’s net debt –as at 30 September– was €8,613 million, compared to €6,500 million at year end 2020.
  • Currently 88% of the debt (drawn down) is referenced to a fixed rate.
  • Since January the Company has issued five bonds, one in February –in three tranches– for a total of €2,500 million, one in March for an amount of 150 million Swiss francs, one in May for €1,000 million, one in June –the first in the United States market– for 600 million dollars long term (20 years); and one in September –in two tranches– for a total amount of €1,850 million.
  • Likewise, in April, the Board of Directors made a rights issue of €7 billion to bolster the Company’s available resources for financing the expansion of its telecommunications infrastructure portfolio in Europe.
  • As at September 2021, Cellnex has access to immediate liquidity (cash and undrawn debt) of approximately €14.3 billion.
  • Cellnex Telecom’s issues maintain Fitch’s investment grade rating (BBB-) with a stable outlook, confirmed in July. For its part, S&P confirmed the BB+ rating with a stable outlook in June.

Period featuring the conclusion of operations and the announcement of new growth agreements
In 2021 Cellnex announced acquisitions in France (Hivory), the Netherlands (sites from Deutsche Telekom) and Poland (Polkomtel Infrastruktura) with an associated investment of some €9 billion.

It has also announced an expanded partnership with MEO in Portugal through the acquisition of 223 sites and 464 DAS and Small Cells that have been spun off from the Portuguese mobile operator’s tower division. This transaction involves an investment of €209 million.

Of the series of acquisitions announced over the past 12 months, the Company has already concluded:

  • The integration of CK Hutchison’s assets in Austria, Denmark, Ireland (December 2020), Sweden (January) and Italy (June), after receiving the go-ahead from the competition authorities in the respective countries. The company has thereby consolidated some 18,600 sites out of the total of 24,600 included in the agreement announced in November 2020, with only the agreement in the United Kingdom, scheduled for the first half of 2022, still to be concluded. The whole transaction is worth €10,000 million, and the agreements also envisage the roll-out of up to 5,300 new sites over the next eight years, with the investment of a further €1,100 million.
  • The integration of Play and Polkomtel Infrastruktura in Poland. At the end of March, Cellnex concluded the agreement with Iliad to purchase the network of approximately 7,000 Play sites in Poland, as announced in October 2020. After receiving the go-ahead from the competition authorities, Cellnex formalised the €800 million acquisition for a 60% controlling stake in the company that will now be managing these sites. This new Polish telecommunications infrastructure operator, controlled by Cellnex, plans to invest up to €1,300 million rolling out up to 5,000 new sites over the next ten years in Poland. Likewise, in early July the company concluded the agreement with Cyfrowy Polsat -announced in February- for the acquisition of 99.99% of its telecommunications infrastructure subsidiary, Polkomtel Infrastruktura, following the go-ahead from the Polish competition authority (UKOiK). Polkomtel operates passive infrastructure (some 7,000 towers and telecommunications sites) and active infrastructure (some 37,000 radio carriers providing coverage for all the bands used by 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G, and 11,300 km of fibre backbone network and fibre to the tower (backhaul), supplemented by a national network of microwave radio links. The operation involves an investment of c. €600 million, plus an additional programme to roll out up to about 1,500 sites, together with investments in active equipment, mainly for the roll-out of 5G, for a further €600 million or so over the next 10 years.
  • The integration of DT sites in the Netherlands. In early June, after receiving the required approvals from the competition authorities, Cellnex and Deutsche Telekom concluded the agreement, announced in January, to merge their telecommunications tower business in the Netherlands and create an independently managed digital-infrastructure investment fund. Cellnex Netherlands has begun operating a total of 4,310 towers, including some 240 new sites to be rolled out over the next seven years.

This week Cellnex received the green light from the French Competition Authority for the acquisition of Hivory in France, the telecommunications tower operator that manages 10,500 sites mainly for SFR, from Altice France and Starlight Holdco. The deal will cost Cellnex €5.2 billion, which will be accompanied by an eight-year investment programme worth a further €900 million for the rollout of up to 2,500 new sites, among other projects.

The approval by the French Competition Authority is contingent on Cellnex divesting c. 3,200 rooftops. To this end, Cellnex is already working on new opportunities related to the deployment of new core assets to reinvest the proceeds of this divestment with a view that the Company’s expected financials on a consolidated run rate basis remain unaffected.

Once the deal has been concluded, Cellnex will be working in France with three of the four major mobile operators, thereby enhancing its role as a neutral operator that allows it to maximize infrastructure sharing among various customers and to foster rationalization of existing sites. 

New projects on the connectivity of road and rail corridors
In the area of organic growth, the company continues to expand its portfolio of projects on the connectivity of road and rail corridors.

In addition to the London-Brighton project in the United Kingdom –announced in March– and ProRail in the Netherlands –announced in April– Cellnex has been awarded the Grand Paris Express project to provide mobile coverage, over a multi-operator DAS system, to all stations and tunnels on the new Paris metro lines 16 (between Saint-Denis Pleyel and Noisy-Champs) and 17 (to Charles de Gaulle airport and later Le Mesnil Amelot).
CT Bureau

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