(Bloomberg) -- Cellnex Telecom SA agreed to sell a stake in its businesses in Denmark and Sweden for about €730 million ($772 million) in a drive to cut debt.
Private equity firm Stonepeak has agreed to buy a 49% holding in the operations for a €558 million upfront payment plus €130 million three years after closing and a €40 million earn out, expected in 2026, Cellnex said in a statement on Friday. The transaction is expected to close no later than the first quarter.
The deal marks Cellnex’s first major divestment since Marco Patuano took over as chief executive officer of Europe’s largest tower operator in June with a mandate to retool its strategy after years of acquisitions. While Patuano has signaled that reining in debt is a priority, he has also said that the company could look to financial investors to help fund deals if needed.
Cellnex’s shares rose 4% to €33.70 at 9:42 a.m. in Madrid after earlier gaining as much as 4.4%, the biggest intraday gain since July. The stock was the best performer on the European Stoxx 600 Telecommunications Index.
Patuano said in July that Denmark and Sweden are two markets where consolidation is likely to happen but that the process would need a partner with “deep pockets.” The tower operator entered Denmark and Sweden after buying CK Hutchison Holdings Ltd.’s European towers in 2021.
Cellnex got a good deal, winning a premium to its current trading multiple and what the company paid for the assets two years ago, New Street Research analyst James Ratzer said. The sales will also help with its de-leveraging project, he said.
Since its initial public offering in 2015, Cellnex benefited from years of cheap borrowing costs and robust appetite from investors to fund deals. That ground to a halt once interest rates began to rise and the company has been searching for ways to raise funds to pay off its debt.
(Updates with share reaction, analyst comment in fourth and sixth paragraphs.)
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