PLDT Group said Friday it signed a deal with a unit of Aboitiz Equity Ventures for the sale of 650 telecommunications towers and associated passive telecommunications infrastructure for P9.2 billion.
PLDT and subsidiaries Smart Communications Inc. and Digitel Mobile Phils. Inc. signed the sale and purchase agreement with Unity Digital Infrastructure Inc. for the 650 towers in Visayas and Mindanao.
Backed by Aboitiz InfraCapital and Partners Group, a leading global private markets investment firm, Unity is an established independent tower company in the Philippines and an existing partner of the PLDT Group.
Upon completion of the transaction, Smart will lease back the towers for a period of 10 years at competitive terms as the anchor tenant.
The sale and leaseback will be complemented by a new tower build commitment of 220 towers over the next few years enabling, Smart to further expand its network and enhance customer experience.
“This transaction deepens our relationship with Unity and its shareholders, while allowing PLDT to further unlock value and providing us with additional financial and operational flexibility as we further expand across the Philippines,” PLDT chairman Manuel Pangilinan said.
Aboitiz Group president and chief executive Sabin Aboitiz said that through these digital portfolio expansion initiatives, “Aboitiz will be able to help address the gaps in connectivity and Internet access in the country”.
“It also positions us as a leader in digital infrastructure, which greatly contributes to our goal of becoming the Philippines’ first techglomerate,” Aboitiz said.
Aboitiz InfraCapital president and chief executive Cosette Canilao said the transaction is aligned with the Aboitiz Group’s Great Transformation journey as the acquisition further expands Unity’s digital footprint and presence in the country.
“This initiative will continue to support our commitment to improve and provide reliable connectivity to mobile network operators, which would, in turn, advance the growth of Philippines’ digital economy,” Canilao said.
Andrew Kwok, managing director and head for private infrastructure in Asia of Partners Group, said the Philippines is a rising technology powerhouse and one of Asia’s fast growing digital economies.
“Despite the country’s increasing reliance on digital technologies, it is behind other Southeast Asian countries in terms of network connectivity. We see Unity playing a key role in addressing this gap through building a tower portfolio, which is aligned with our vision of transforming it into the leading telecommunications infrastructure platform in the Philippines,” said Kwok.
The closing of the transaction will be staggered based on the number of towers being transferred and subject to customary closing conditions. All closings are expected to be completed in 2023.
UBS AG acted as the exclusive financial adviser to PLDT and Smart on the transaction.