A consortium led by Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and KKR core infrastructure funds is acquiring Vantage Towers in a co-control partnership with Vodafone in a €16bn deal.

The consortium, which is also backed by Tower Bridge Infrastructure Partners as a co-investor and the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, has agreed to the partnership with Vodafone for Vodafone’s 81.7% stake in the leading European tower company.

Vodafone will transfer its stake in Vantage Towers to Oak BidCo, a holding company which will be indirectly co-controlled by Vodafone and the consortium.

The consortium will obtain a shareholding of up to 50%.

As part of the deal, Oak BidCo will launch a voluntary public takeover offer for the 18.3% outstanding free float shares of Vantage Towers by offering €32 per share. Vantage Towers shares closed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange on Wednesday at €32.38, valuing the company at €16.35bn.

Vodafone said it expects to receive minimum net cash proceeds of €3.2bn and a maximum net cash proceeds of €5.8 to 7.1bn depending on the take up in the voluntary takeover offer and subject to GIP and KKR raising further equity.

Following the completion of the acquisition, Vodafone and the consortium will consider delisting from the stock exchange.

Founded in 2020 and headquartered in Düsseldorf, Vantage Towers has a large footprint of approximately 83,000 sites in ten countries. Vantage Towers’ portfolio includes towers, masts, rooftop sites, distributed antenna systems and small cells. The company has been listed in Frankfurt since March last year. 

Will Brilliant, partner and head of GIP’s digital Infrastructure business, said: “We’re delighted to join forces with Vodafone and KKR to invest in Vantage Towers, a high-quality European tower portfolio with strong upside potential. We are looking forward to capturing the exciting value-creating opportunities in the European telecoms infrastructure sector by advancing Vantage Towers’ strategy and supporting its capacity to build new sites.

”As strategic partners with Vodafone and KKR, we will bring our deep infrastructure expertise and resources to help the company deliver the best data connectivity for individuals and businesses and contribute to enabling Europe’s digital future in the interest of all stakeholders.”

Vincent Policard, partner and co-head of European infrastructure at KKR, said: “Together with our strategic partners Vodafone and GIP, we believe Vantage Towers’ high-quality footprint and network across the region ideally position it to meet the ever-growing demand for mobile connectivity in Europe.

”We have a shared goal of creating a pan-European telecoms champion by continuing to grow and develop the business, leveraging the consortium’s significant telecoms infrastructure investment experience and global resources.

”At KKR we are long-term conviction investors in Europe’s digital infrastructure and at Vantage Towers we intend to pursue value-creating investments to capitalise on the growth in this sector and to help drive consolidation in a fragmented market.” 

Nick Read, Vodafone Group CEO, said: “This is a landmark moment for both Vodafone and Vantage Towers. This transaction successfully delivers on Vodafone’s stated aims of retaining co-control over a strategically important asset, deconsolidating Vantage Towers from our balance sheet to ensure we can optimise its capital structure and generate substantial upfront cash proceeds for the group to support our priority of deleveraging.

”We are excited to partner with GIP and KKR, both world-class investors who bring significant expertise in digital infrastructure and share our long-term vision for Vantage Towers as we collectively take the business to the next stage of its growth.”

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