KKR-backed Frontier nears deal to buy 1,000 PLDT towers for $200m: report

KKR-backed Frontier nears deal to buy 1,000 PLDT towers for $200m: report

Photo by Tony Stoddard on Unsplash

Frontier Towers, the KKR-backed subsidiary of telecom operator Pinnacle Towers, and Philippine telecom giant PLDT are reportedly nearing a deal that would see PLDT selling 1,000 telecommunications towers for more than $200 million.

According to a Bloomberg report on Thursday, PLDT President Alfredo Panlilio confirmed that the company is nearing the sale and an announcement could be made soon.

PLDT has so far sold over 6,500 towers in sale and leaseback transactions valued at more than 86 billion pesos ($1.6 billion). In April last year, PLDT sold 2,973 towers and related passive assets to a unit of Edotco Group and 2,934 towers to a unit of EdgePoint, representing about half its telecom towers.

It signed a deal to sell another 650 cellular towers to independent tower firm Unity Digital Infrastructure in December for about $165 million. Unity is an independent tower company backed by Aboitiz InfraCapital and Swiss private markets firm Partners Group.

The PLDT deal marks the second telecoms tower deal for Frontier Towers in the Philippines. In August, the firm agreed to pay about $810 million to acquire 3,539 telecom towers from PLDT’s rival Globe.

Frontier Towers announced in July last year that it successfully erected its 550th common telecom tower, marking the most of any tower company in the Philippines.

Its parent company, Pinnacle Towers has also provided capital for Metro Pacific Hospitals, the hospital arm of Metro Pacific Investment Corp, as well as Voyager Innovations Inc., a unit of PLDT Inc.

KKR acquired a stake in Pinnacle Towers for an undisclosed amount in November 2020. Pinnacle aims to build an independent telecom tower platform in the Philippines to help telecom firms meet the demand for reliable, data-rich, high-speed, and affordable connectivity.

The PLDT-Frontier deal comes as the Philippine government has been pushing for mobile network operators to share infrastructure since 2017, saying every tower in the country serves more than 7,000 subscribers, as opposed to the ideal value of having 1,000 subscribers per tower, and the usual 2,000 subscribers per tower in countries with faster internet.

In a separate announcement, PLDT said it has agreed to acquire Sky Cable Corporation’s broadband business for 6.75 billion. Sky Vision Corp, ABS-CBN Corp. and Lopez Inc currently own Sky.

ABS-CBN noted in a separate disclosure that the sale would cover 58.7% of their outstanding shares in Sky Cable. The beleaguered broadcast network is expected to net 4 billion pesos from the sale.

Edited by: Pramod Mathew

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