Polish tower deal can go ahead, says competition authority

Polish tower deal can go ahead, says competition authority

The Polish competition authority has cleared the acquisition by Cellnex Telecom, an operator of wireless telecommunications and broadcasting infrastructures, of Polkomtel Infrastruktura.

Polkomtel Insfrastruktura operates Cyfrowy Polsat Group’s passive infrastructure of about 7,000 telecommunication towers and sites. It also operates the active infrastructure – about 37,000 radio carriers covering all the bands used by 2G, 3G, 4G and 5G, some 11,300 km of fibre backbone and fibre-to-the-tower backhaul, and a national network of microwave radiolinks. Cyfrowy Polsat is one of the largest digital platforms in Europe.

The authority found that Polkomtel Infrastruktura’s integration into the Cellnex group in Poland did not  raise competition concerns that could affect the normal development of the telecommunications infrastructure market in the country.

This is a very big sale: the transaction involves an investment of about €1.6 billion (about $1.94 billion), plus an additional programme to roll out up to 1,500 sites, as well as investments in active equipment, mostly for 5G, for an estimated further €600 million over the next 10 years. The transaction will be financed with available cash and should be closed before the end of this summer.

The deal strengthens Cellnex’ position in Poland following its recent acquisition of towers and sites from operator Play. The company refers to its commitment to evolve the traditional tower operator model towards an integrated telecommunications infrastructure management model, combining the operation of passive elements (towers) and active elements such as transmission equipment, radio links and fibre-to-the-tower.

This is another example of the evolution of telecoms infrastructure business models – and not just in Europe. Our recent reports have cited examples from Africa, the Middle East and Latin America, many involving leaseback arrangements.

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