Vodafone set to float new European tower division

(Image credit: Vodafone)

Vodafone has confirmed plans to move its tower assets across Europe into a separate business unit that could go eventually go public.

The company has been exploring ways to better monetise its mast infrastructure as it seeks to find €1.2 billion in cost savings.

The new division will be Europe’s largest, commanding control of nearly 62,000 towers in ten countries. This opens up the greater possibility of infrastructure sharing with other operators or opening up the unit to other investors.

Vodafone Tower unit

Vodafone itself will pursue an active and passive network sharing strategy, believing this will enable it to roll out 5G quicker, cheaper and faster. It has recently entered into new agreements in Italy, Spain and the UK, where it will share tower infrastructure with O2.

Any proceeds from the new tower division will be used to reduce Vodafone’s debt and any floatation would depend on market conditions.

“Building on our position as Europe’s largest converged operator, we are now creating Europe’s largest tower company,” said Vodafone CEO Nick Read.

“Given the scale and quality of our infrastructure, we believe there is a substantial opportunity to unlock value for shareholders while capturing the significant industrial benefits of network sharing for the digital society. We are focussed on executing this strategic priority over the next 18 months."

Vodafone’s first quarter service revenues were down by 0.2 per cent to €9 billion, with UK income up by 0.1 per cent to €1.23 billion. The operator became the second mobile operator to switch on 5G in the UK earlier this month and plans to launch in nine markets before the end of the financial year.

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.