DigitalBridge has agreed to acquire Belgian mobile infrastructure from Telenet, paying about $820 million in cash.
DigitalBridge will acquire 100% of Telenet’s passive infrastructure and towers, which includes the company’s footprint of 3,322 sites across Belgium. The deal also includes a long-term master lease agreement for Telenet to access the infrastructure, for an initial period of 15 years and two 10-year renewals, plus a commitment by DigitalBridge to deploy 475 new sites.
The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of this year.
DigitalBridge said that the transaction “creates the foundation for DigitalBridge to benefit from Telenet’s increased participation in 5G deployment to meet growing coverage needs as underscored by robust market and macroeconomic trends in the telecom.”
“Telenet’s tower business is a high-quality digital infrastructure asset with stable, predictable cashflows, high cash conversion, and long-term contracts,” said Marc Ganzi, president and CEO of DigitalBridge. “This transaction is the latest example of DigitalBridge’s commitment to working with leading telecom and technology companies globally to help them unlock embedded value in their networks via creative solutions built on long-standing relationships and a proven track record of successfully operating assets. We see significant headroom for growth in the Belgian telecom market through the enhancement of mobile penetration and data usage, and we look forward to meeting and exceeding Telenet’s increased coverage needs.”
DigitalBridge said that after the transaction is complete, it plans to transfer the tower assets to a fund affiliated with its investment management platform, to support the firm’s “continued development of new investment strategies,” as the company put it in a release.
Meanwhile, in addition to the tower investment, DigitalBridge’s investment arm, DigitalBridge Ventures, has made an investment in the form of leading a $60 million Series C investment in Celona, which focuses on the intersection of private LTE/5G networks and enterprise IT.
“DigitalBridge Ventures provides DigitalBridge with a new avenue to stay at the forefront of digital infrastructure by investing in exceptional, disruptive businesses,” said Ganzi, in a statement. “This is a key component of our plan to enter new growth verticals in 2022 as a full-stack digital infrastructure investor and allows us to bring our capabilities and expertise to the software-defined network of the future.” Ganzi later added that DigitalBridge’s new investment strategy would “[leverage] DigitalBridge’s unique resources to identify and partner with emerging, entrepreneurial leaders across the digital infrastructure technology sector.”
Ganzi called Celona “a pioneer in the private 5G market.” Celona launched a 5G Local Area Network (LAN) platform in late 2020, with the aim of making 5G cellular networks easy to deploy within existing IT infrastructure. More recently, Celona landed a partnership with Verizon Business to provide turn-key private 5G networks for enterprises. Celona says it has now raised total capital of more than $100 million, with investors including NTTVC, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Norwest Venture Partners, Qualcomm Ventures and Cervin Ventures.