Arqiva and Cellnex £2bn mobile mast merger approved

(Image credit: Huawei)

The UK competition watchdog has approved the proposed £2 billion merger between Cellnex and Arqiva’s mobile infrastructure business.

A deal was announced in October last year and will see Cellnex gain 7,400 sites – including masts, towers and urban rooftops – and the right to market a further 900 across the UK.

The company already operators and markets tower assets in the UK and signed a long-term strategic agreement with BT in June to operate 220 of its high towers.

Cellnex Arqiva

Cellnex will inherit a customer base that includes all four major UK operators, as well as the CTIL and MBNL infrastructure sharing joint-ventures, at a time when they are expanding 4G coverage and investing in 5G.

Meanwhile, Arqiva will use the proceeds to secure the long-term sustainability of Arqiva’s broadcast unit which offers services to the television and radio industries.

Some, such as Three, feared the merger would reduce competition in the market however the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) found this would not be the case. It said Cellnex was a minor player in the infrastructure sector and there was little overlap between it and Arqiva. Furthermore, it noted the emergence of new players in the small cell market.

“We are delighted with the decision. This is a significant boost for the UK’s digital future. We were pleased to engage constructively with the CMA throughout what was a rigorous process,” declared Paul Donovan, who was appointed as Arqiva CEO last week.

“Arqiva is now fully focused on strengthening its position as the UK’s No1 broadcast and M2M infrastructure solutions provider, particularly at a time when these critical services are showing their value and relevance so strongly.”

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.