American Tower Said to Explore Purchase of Spain's CellnexBy , , , and
Cellnex shareholder Abertis would first combine with Atlantia
U.S. mobile-phone tower operator hasn’t made a formal offer
American Tower Corp. is exploring a bid for Cellnex Telecom SA to expand in Europe as the Spanish tower operator’s main shareholder considers selling assets as part of a merger, according to people familiar with the matter. Cellnex surged in Madrid trading.
Any offer from American Tower would hinge on the successful combination of the Spanish company’s largest shareholder, Abertis Infraestructuras SA, with Atlantia SpA, the people said, asking not to be identified as the information is private. Atlantia would determine whether to sell the Abertis assets once the deal is concluded, one of the people said. The Italian company has said it expects the deal to close in the fourth quarter.
Cellnex shares rose 5.1 percent to $18.84 at 10:33 a.m. in Madrid on Wednesday after earlier gaining as much as 7.3 percent, the biggest intraday jump since 2015. The shares had risen about 31 percent this year through Tuesday, giving the company a market value of about 4.2 billion euros ($4.7 billion).
American Tower, which has a market value of about $56 billion, has yet to make a formal offer for the Spanish firm, another person said. No final agreements have been reached with any of the parties, and the discussions may not result in a deal, the people said.
“Cellnex management has not had any type of contact with American Tower over any sort of possible deal,” a spokesman said. Representatives for American Tower and Abertis declined to comment.
Abertis, which is Cellnex’s largest shareholder with a 34 percent stake, has received an $18 billion offer from Atlantia in a deal that would create the world’s biggest toll-road operator. Abertis is planning to sell about a 4 percent stake to simplify the deal and avoid triggering a Spanish rule that would require Atlantia to make an offer for all of Cellnex.
Abertis’s 57 percent holding in Spanish satellite and broadband provider Hispasat SA may also be sold, one of the people said. Atlantia is open to selling non-core assets following the tie-up, people familiar with the matter said in April.
An acquisition of Cellnex would add to the flurry of tower deals in Europe in the last several months. Earlier this year, Telefonica SA agreed to sell a minority stake in its Telxius infrastructure unit to KKR & Co. for 1.28 billion euros. Cellnex agreed to buy mobile phone towers from Swiss carrier Sunrise Communications Group AG last week.
Crown Castle International Corp. is also a potential buyer of the Spanish company, the Expansion newspaper reported, citing people in the financial industry it didn’t name.