Vodafone has spun off its telco tower assets and will float the new company on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in early 2021.
Vantage Towers will hold around 68,000 towers across nine European markets.
Vodafone also announced that Vantage plans to merge tower assets with the Greek company Wind Hellas, which it initially attempted to do in 2012 but talks broke down.
Vivek Badrinath has been appointed Vantage CEO, Thomas Reisten as CFO, and Sonia Hernandez as CCO. The company will still be majority-owned by Vodafone.
Vivek to lead Vodafone's Vantage venture
Vantage Towers is now one of Europe’s largest tower companies and holds a leading position in nine countries and a controlling interest in eight markets: Germany, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary, and Ireland.
Vantage Towers will also own a 33.2 percent of Infrastructure Wireless Italiane in Italy, with co-control rights under the terms of a shareholder agreement with Telecom Italia.
In the UK, Cornerstone Telecommunications Infrastructure Limited's (CTIL) portfolio of 14,300 masts may be added to Vantage's own army of towers when taking into account Vodafone’s 50 percent equity stake in CTIL, along with O2.
The company will also inherit a host of long-term contractual commitments from Vodafone's tenants to provide a steady stream of revenue.
Vodafone announced it would spin off its tower assets ack in July 2019, initially calling the business Towerco. Vantage has been operating as a separate entity since May 2020.
Vantage’s headquarters is in Düsseldorf, Germany, and listed as an Aktiengesellschaft (“AG”), which means it will be a publicly-traded company in Germany, no details on share prices have been revealed.
When The Times reported on the move last year, the tower assets were valued at €18bn ($21bn) European mobile masts business.
Vodafone defended the decision saying it was necessary as it completed the $21.3bn acquisition of Liberty Global's cable systems in Germany, Hungary, Romania, and the Czech Republic, and has to finance its rollout of 5G.
The move has surprised some due to expectations the company would have listed the venture on the London Stock Exchange.
In a call to journalists following the announcement, Vodafone's CEO Nick Read said the decision to move IPO and company to Germany wasn't because of Brexit but rather because the bulk of the Vantage's assets were in Germany, The Financial Times reports.
To kick off the company publicly, Vodafone also announced it has struck a deal with Crystal Almond, the controlling shareholder of Wind Hellas, for both parties to merge their tower infrastructure in Greece under Vantage Towers Greece.
Vantage Towers Greece will be the largest tower company in the small Mediterranean country with a portfolio of 5,200 macro towers generating €132m ($153m) in revenue.
As part of the deal, Vodafone will pay €25m ($29m) to Crystal Almond upon the creation of Vantage Towers Greece for a 62 percent share of the company, rolling it under Vantage Towers. Crystal Almond will own the remaining 38 percent.
According to Vodafone, Crystal Almond has granted Vantage Towers a Call Option until December 31, 2021, to acquire the remaining stake for €288m ($334m) in cash. The price will increase by five percent if the Call Option has not been made by July 1, 2021.
One agreement reached was that when Vantage Towers hits its IPO then the Call Option will automatically be triggered. Crystal Almond will acquire €100m ($116m) in shares at the IPO price.
Along with the venture, Vodafone Greece and Wind Hellas have signed a new long-term Master Service Agreement (MSA) with an initial eight-year term, with three further eight-year renewal periods on an all or nothing basis.
Under the MSA, Vantage Towers Greece will be the preferred supplier of new towers for Vodafone Greece and Wind Hellas, each of which has agreed to commit as an anchor tenant on 250 new sites (500 in total) built by Vantage Towers Greece over a five-year period from January 1, 2021.
The merger is subject to review and approval by regulatory authorities and if all goes to plan is expected to be completed by the end of 2020.