Australia’s Future Fund and two superannuation funds have formed a consortium to buy a 49% interest in Telstra InfraCo Towers for A$2.8bn (€1.76bn).

The consortium comprises the Future Fund as its largest investor, Sunsuper and the Commonwealth Superannuation Corporation (CSC), and is managed by Morrison & Co.

A person familiar with the deal told IPE Real Assets that the Future Fund would have a 50% interest in the consortium, while Sunsuper and the CSC will each have a 25% interest.

Telstra, Australia’s largest telecom group, retains a 51% stake in Telstra InfraCo an owner of around 8,200 telecom towers around Australia.

Telstra has also entered into a 15-year agreement (with the option to extend) with InfraCo Towers to secure ongoing access to existing and new towers.

Raphael Arndt, CEO of the Future Fund, said: “The long-term growth potential and defensive cash flow profile of this investment is a valuable fit with our focus on diversification across the portfolio.

“This investment further strengthens our exposure to digital infrastructure and the long-term thematic of data growth.”

Telstra’s chief executive, Andy Penn, said: “We were approached by the consortium earlier in the year as they recognised the value of these assets and provided a compelling rationale to progress the transaction ahead of schedule.”

Penn said Telstra’s objective in seeking a strategic partner had been to maximise overall value for its shareholders while maintaining control of the assets to retain “competitive differentiation” into the future.

Will Smales, the global head of private markets at Morrison & Co, said: “We are pleased to have unlocked this transaction by presenting Telstra with a compelling strategic proposition that recognises the value of their high-quality network infrastructure assets.”

Mark Bogoievski, CEO of Morrison & Co, said: “We see future opportunities to develop both greenfield and in-situ assets, including 5G network deployments, to provide efficient and reliable access for all customers.”

CSC’s CIO, Alison Tarditi, said: “These assets complement our existing digital infrastructure investments, including Australian data centres, as CSC was an early mover into opportunities to provide the infrastructure of the future.”

Michael Weaver, Sunsuper’s head of private markets added the partnership would provide a strong, defensive investment opportunity in a sector “exhibiting positive momentum”, he said.

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