After making concessions to antitrust regulators, the merger is expected to finally go ahead
Vodafone and Telecom Italia (TIM) have been trying to merge their tower assets since July last year. The goal is to transfer Vodafone’s Italian towers to INWIT, a TIM subsidiary, thus creating Europe’s largest tower infrastructure company.
The merger would be worth €10 billion, with both Vodafone and Tim being left with a 37.5% stake in the combined company.
Joining their tower assets would allow the two partners to jointly shoulder the heavy infrastructure investments that come with 5G. The pair are already committed to a network sharing agreement in Italy.
However, antitrust regulation has looked unfavorably upon the move after consulting with the operators’ peers to discuss the negative impact it could have on the rest of the industry. As a result, the regulators sought concessions from TIM and Vodafone to rebalance the scales.
Now, it seems that these concessions have been agreed, with Reuters reporting that the combined INWIT will be making 400–630 sites available for 6–9 years to the company’s rivals to provide mobile and fixed telephone services. These sites are all to be situated in towns with populations above 35,000.
With this agreed, the EU regulator is expected to make way, with an official decision expected later today.
Tower infrastructure companies are enjoying what may be a short-lived Golden Age right now, as operators move to free themselves of their towers to reinvest the resulting cash in other areas of 5G deployment. Cellnex is one company reaping the rewards of this trend, recently reporting a record financial year, with revenue topping $1 billion.
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