Vodafone NZ sells mobile towers for $1.7 billion, promises infrastructure acceleration

A cellphone tower in NZ
Just last week Spark sold off 70 percent of its interests in its tower business. Photo credit: Getty Images

Vodafone New Zealand is following hot on the heels of rivals Spark by announcing the sale of its passive mobile tower assets.

Spark revealed last week it had sold 70 percent of its interests in the tower business to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board, for around $900 million.

Vodafone, along with shareholders Infratil and Brookfield Asset Management, said the sale was worth $1.7 billion, with 40 percent going to both InfraRed Capital partners and Northleaf Capital.

Infratil will reinvest funds to hold a 20 percent stake in the new TowerCo.

The new TowerCo will be the largest towers business in Aotearoa, covering over 98 percent of New Zealand's population.

Under the terms of the deal, which is subject to Overseas Investment Office approval and completion of certain reorganisation steps, the new TowerCo will enter into a 20-year master services agreement with Vodafone NZ, with the rights to extend.

That will provide the internet and cellphone company with access to both existing and new towers, and contains a commitment from TowerCo to build at least 390 additional sites over the next ten years.

Vodafone will continue to own the active parts of its network, including the radio access equipment and spectrum assets, it said.

Vodafone CEO Jason Paris said the company was pleased at the outcome of the process, which had attracted "significant" interest.

"Infratil, InfraRed Capital Partners and Northleaf Capital are outstanding investors who share our vision for Aotearoa New Zealand and will help us to accelerate the roll out of critical infrastructure for our customers," he said.

"This is a move that will further increase the coverage, capacity and speed of our network for our customers, making our Smart Network even smarter."

The transaction is expected to be completed in the fourth quarter of 2022, subject to receipt of Overseas Investment Office approval.