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Cellnex hires former chairman Patuano as new CEO

Spain’s Cellnex said on Thursday it could designate a new chief executive in “a few days”, completing a search which prompted resignations from the board of Europe’s largest mobile phone tower operator.

The announcement came as Cellnex unveiled first-quarter results, with core earnings rising and net loss narrowing from a year ago, and said it was on track towards its 2025 outlook.

CEO Tobias Martinez, who plans to step down in June following an annual shareholder meeting, said he expected his successor’s appointment to be part of the agenda, and the designation process to be “a question of a few days”.

Cellnex named on Wednesday two new board members, a move expected to facilitate a majority in favour of a new CEO.

One of the seats was allocated to activist hedge fund TCI, which has become Cellnex’s largest single shareholder. In March, it demanded the removal of Cellnex’s chair and two board members, arguing the board had made little progress in the search for a new CEO.

The chair and an independent board member resigned earlier this month, citing “irreconcilable differences with the board” over management issues and the succession process.

After borrowing heavily to build the largest cellphone mast network in Europe, mainly through acquisitions, Cellnex in November shifted its strategy in a rising interest rate environment towards reducing its debt and getting a credit rating upgrade.

Cellnex expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to grow in 2023 to around 3 billion euros and revenues to reach between 4.1 billion and 4.3 billion. By 2025, they would exceed 3 billion and 4 billion euros respectively.

Cellnex net debt was little changed at 17 billion euros in March.

It controls around 112,000 masts across Europe and plans to have 19,000 more by 2030. Reuters

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