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Cellnex eyes Polish asset sale to trim debt

Spain’s Cellnex, opens new tab is considering selling a minority stake in its Polish operations, four sources close to the talks said, which would be the latest asset disposal by the mobile phone tower operator as it seeks to reduce its debt.

Any deal would likely value the Polish unit above 3 billion euros ($3.27 billion) excluding debt, two of the people said.

Cellnex is working with advisers including JPMorgan to evaluate the sale of a stake in its Polish business, as it seeks to raise financing for a potential agreement with Iliad Group in Poland, said the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity. BNP Paribas is also working on the sale, one of the people said.

Cellnex and Iliad are in talks over a possible arrangement for the Spanish company to expand the telecoms infrastructure that it manages for Iliad in Poland, a second person said.

A formal sale process for the stake is scheduled to kick off before the summer, the sources said. However, the plans may still be changed or dropped, they cautioned.

Spokespeople for Cellnex, JPMorgan and BNP declined to comment. Iliad did not respond to requests for comment.

The Spanish company, which has grown through acquisitions since listing in 2015, changed direction in 2022 when rising interest rates forced it to re-focus on cutting debt by selling non-core assets and simplifying the business.

CEO Marco Patuano told Reuters in November it would accelerate asset sales in a bid to get an investment grade credit rating by the middle of 2024.

It sold 49% of its Nordic arm to infrastructure fund Stonepeak last year for 730 million euros, while a sale process is underway for its Austrian and Irish businesses.

Cellnex controls more than 15,000 operational sites in Poland, where it has been operating since 2021.

Poland is the largest country included in Cellnex’s “rest of Europe” business, which excludes France, Italy and Spain. The Rest of Europe businesses generated 1 billion euros of adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization up to September 2023, a 27% increase year on year, according to its latest results.

In Poland, Cellnex had an estimated capital expenditure of 1.4 billion euros as of September 2023, without considering any additional investment linked to the potential Iliad agreement. Reuters

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