CALA news

A roundup of tower news across Central and Latin America

Mexico, Nicaragua and Colombia: Uniti Towers acquires NMS towers in CALA

On 14 November 2016, CS&L, a U.S. based REIT which owns 4.2mn fibre strand miles (6.76mn km), 86 wireless towers, and other communications real estate throughout the United States and Mexico, announced the purchase of 359 towers from NMS for a total value of US$65mn. The towers are spread across Mexico, Colombia and Nicaragua and have been acquired by CS&L’s LatAm subsidiary, Uniti Towers (formerly known as Summit LatAm). A more detailed analysis of this transaction is featured later in this Journal.

Mexico: Altan group awarded Mexican wholesale mobile network deal

The Altan group has been awarded the Mexican wholesale mobile network deal. According to the deal, the network will cover 85% of the population. The awarded group is a consortium including Mexican companies Megacable and Axtel and is backed by Morgan Stanley Infrastructure and the IFC.

Mexico: Rivada starts legal battle against tender disqualification

The Rivada Networks consortium has been disqualified from the Mexican wholesale shared network tender. The consortium got disqualified by the Secretariat of Communications and Transport (SCT) because it failed to include a band for MX$1bn. The Rivada Networks is now pursuing legal action against the disqualification.

Mexico: IFETEL announces delay to 2017 for the 2.5GHz auction

The IFETEL announced that the planned 2.5GHz band auction will be delayed until 2017. The auction was originally scheduled to take place before the end of 2016.

Brazil: Oi tries to settle Anatel’s fines while restructuring

Oi is in discussion to settle with Anatel the fines (BRL11bn) imposed by Anatel. The plan is for Oi to commit to investments. Schroeder, Oi’s CEO, added while speaking at an event that the company plans to conclude negotiations with its creditors before the end of Q2 2017.

Brazil: América Móvil interested in Oi

The CEO of América Móvil, Daniel Hajj, has expressed his interest in acquiring some of Oi’s operations in an interview with Valor Economico. In the interview, he noted that “We are open to looking at anything. I am very interested in participating in the consolidation in Brazil, but I don’t know how it will happen.”

Brazil: TIM sells 66 towers to AMT

TIM Brasil has sold 66 towers to American Tower for US$8mn in December as part of the 2014 deal. To date, out of the original 6,481 towers that TIM said it would sell to the towerco, 5,753 have been transferred for a total value of approximately US$800mn.

Argentina: American Tower seals first deal in Argentina

American Tower have purchased Comunicaciones y Consumos, SA (CyCSA), acquiring 1000 urban wireless sites and 2,500km of fibre. Under the deal, American Tower will also have the right to deploy mobile infrastructure in various locations across the country. The deal value has not been made public, however it is a strong signal that could allay fears over who the end buyer of tower infrastructure in the country might be, and with SBA Communications on the ground too, we suggest our members watch this space as Argentina becomes an increasingly attractive proposition.

Argentina: Nextel’s acquisition approved by ENACOM

ENACOM has approved several acquisitions made by Nextel Argentina back in June 2016. Through those deals, Nextel has acquired six companies, specifically Trixco, Callbi, Infotel, Skyonline de Argentina, Netizen and Eritown Corporation Argentina. Fibercomm, the seventh company acquired by Nextel, has since had its licence revoked. Nextel will use the acquired spectrum to launch 4G LTE in the country.

Argentina: IFC agrees to US$400mn financing to Telecom Personal

World Bank’s IFC has agreed to provide a US$400mn six year financing package to Argentina’s operator Telecom Personal to pursue the expansion of its 4G LTE network. For the IFC, this marks the largest investment in the LatAm telecom sector.

Telecom Personal’s CFO, Ignacio Moran, stated that “This financing will enable us to continue investing in the latest technology to provide the best service to our 20mn mobile customers in Argentina, through a platform that will make possible services for the next decade.”

Dimitris Tsitsiragos, IFC’s VP for Global Client Services, noted that “This investment reflects IFC’s commitment to support key private sector players who significantly contribute to Argentina’s development goals. It will help boost a sector that is fundamental to the country’s economic and social growth. Expanding mobile broadband infrastructure promotes productivity, and helps empower entrepreneurs by providing digital services like mobile e-commerce.”

Argentina: Grupo Clarin lists its subsidiary Cablevision

Grupo Clarin has approved the listing of its subsidiary Cablevision. According to the spin-off, Grupo Clarin will maintain all assets and liabilities of Cablevision. The Vice-Chairman of Grupo Clarin, Alejandro Urricelqui, noted that the split-up will allow the Group “to better focus on the respective vision and strategy for each of our core businesses … [Cablevision Holdings] will further benefit from being a stand-alone public company in the attractive telecommunications, cable television and internet sector where we see a significant growth opportunity and opportunities for investments.”

Argentina: ENACOM signs new telecom decree

A new decree (Decreto 1340/2016) has been signed by ENACOM and included in the Official Gazette on January 2. The decree includes new guidelines for the telecom sector to boost competition and new deployments. According to the decree, an international spectrum tender will be held within H1 of 2017.

Chile: WOM reaches 2mn subscribers 

WOM, the Chilean mobile network operator that has taken over Nextel Chile, has achieved the 2mn subscribers milestone in less than eighteen months since starting operations. WOM is the brand behind UK investment fund Novator who took over Nextel Chile in January 2015.

Spotlight on Argentina: Will convergence in the Argentinian telecoms sector trigger tower divestments? 

The new year in Argentina opened with a new decree, published on the 2nd January, aimed at attracting US$20bn in investment over four years. The Digital Argentina law has been adapted to allow cable TV companies to offer telephony and internet services. Broadly speaking companies will no longer be barred from simultaneously providing cable TV, internet, fixed line and mobile phone services. DirecTV will for example be allowed to sell internet services while cable operator Cablevision SA gets the green light to enter the 4G mobile telephone market through its Nextel holdings.

The first article of the decree, published in the government’s official bulletin, says the state will: “Implement the basic rules to achieve a greater degree of convergence of networks and services under competitive conditions, promote the deployment of next generation networks and the penetration of broadband internet access throughout the national territory.”

The main telephone players including Telefónica, Telecom Argentina and Claro will only be able to offer paid television starting in January 2018, according to the decree. TowerXchange understand that Telefónica are not taking this news well, and are rumoured to be considering judicial action against the government.

Previously phone companies were at a disadvantage to cable operators, which can offer internet and television through the same fibre optic cable. Phone companies need to improve their network cables in order to deliver television, a fact that President Macri hopes will force them to invest in their neglected infrastructure. TowerXchange wonders where this necessary capex will come from, and whether it might be time for the Argentinian telcos to spin out their tower infrastructure.


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