United Group, a Southeast Europe telecommunications and media company majority owned by BC Partners, has sold its tower assets to a company owned by Saudi Telecommunication Company (stc Group) for €1.22bn.

United Group said it has agreed to sell over 4,800 mobile towers in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia to stc Group’s TAWAL, a move United Group says follows an industry trend of separating and monetising mobile tower infrastructure by telecom operators.

Notable tower deals in the last year include OMERS Infrastructure acquiring assets of Australian company TPG Telecom for A$950m (€580m) in its first Asia-Pacific digital infrastructure play, Vodafone New Zealand and its shareholders – Infratil and Brookfield – selling their passive mobile tower assets for NZ$1.7bn (€1.4bn) to InfraRed Capital Partners and Northleaf Capital Partners and DigitalBridge agreeing to buy the mobile telecom tower business of Belgian broadband services firm Telenet for €745m.

KKR-backed Frontier Towers also acquired PHp45bn (€787m) worth of mobile telecommunications towers in the Philippines from Globe Telecom in August last year.

For stc Group, the deal represents TAWAL’s first investment in the European telecoms sector and supports the parent’s strategy to expand its international footprint. TAWAL already owns a portfolio of more than 16,000 mobile towers in the MENA.

Olayan Alwetaid, CEO of stc Group, said: “The agreement is a significant milestone in our ambitious growth strategy and the expansion of our international footprint.

“We are already leading the transformation of Saudi Arabia’s digital capabilities and this transaction reinforces our commitment to investing in best-in-class technology and infrastructure to lead the way in enabling the world to connect.”

Mohammed Alhakbani, CEO of TAWAL, said: “We are delighted to partner with United Group in our first investment in the European market. The partnership supports our goal to continue to provide innovative and efficient ICT infrastructure solutions to our partners and deliver the quality of services we are renowned for.”

United Group said the disposal will allow it to free up cash flow to pursue its network growth strategy including plans to roll out 2,000 additional sites over the next 20 years.

Viktoriya Boklag, CEO of United Group, said: “We are delighted to have successfully crystalised the value of our tower assets in a deal that enables us to deliver and navigate global macro-economic pressures.

“This will support continued investment in our portfolio companies to ensure they remain competitive in their respective markets.”

Nikos Stathopoulos, chairman, Europe at BC Partners, and chairman of United Group, said: “The sale of United Group’s TowerCo business represents a key milestone in United Group’s journey of growth and expansion.

“It allows United Group to focus on continued investment in its telecom and media services and Infrastructure.”

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