United Group BV, the leading multi-play telecoms and media company in Southeast Europe, has reached an agreement to sell 100% of its mobile tower infrastructure unit in Bulgaria, Croatia, and Slovenia (“TowerCo”) to TAWAL, a subsidiary of stc Group.
The transaction values TowerCo, comprising more than 4,800 towers, at €1,220 million on a cash free and debt free basis, fully payable in cash, which represents an EV / 2022 EBITDAal (pre IFRS 16) multiple of 20.1x.
United Group’s sale of its mobile towers follows an industry trend of separating and monetizing mobile tower infrastructure by telecom operators in Europe and globally. Proceeds from the sale will allow United Group to significantly delever the business, freeing up cash flow for future growth. The transaction will enable continued investment in the mobile network including plans to roll out c. 2,000 additional sites over the next 20 years, which will allow United Group to continue providing high quality service to its customers on a long-term basis.
The transaction is the first investment made by TAWAL in the European telecoms sector. TAWAL is the largest integrated ICT infrastructure provider in the MENA region and owns a portfolio of more than 16,000 mobile towers.
In the past three years, United Group has cemented its position as the leading multi-play telecoms and media company in Southeast Europe. It has successfully expanded into more stable and affluent EU markets making significant investments in Greece, Bulgaria, and Croatia. The company operates a diverse range of assets spanning mobile and fixed line internet services, pay TV and media. The company will build on its track record of successful M&A and its growing reputation for providing high quality telecoms and media services and look for further opportunities to expand within the EU.
Viktoriya Boklag, CEO of United Group CEO, said:
“We are delighted to have successfully crystalised the value of our tower assets in a deal that enables us to delever and navigate global macro-economic pressures. This will support continued investment in our portfolio companies to ensure they remain competitive in their respective markets. We are delighted to have found a strong partner in TAWAL and will look for further opportunities to work with them as they expand their footprint in the European market.”
Mohammed Alhakbani, CEO of TAWAL, said:
“This partnership with United Group marks our first investment in the European market. The partnership supports our goal to continue to provide innovative and efficient ICT infrastructure solutions to our partners and deliver the quality of services we are renowned for.”
Olayan Alwetaid, Chief Executive Officer, stc Group, said: “Our agreement with United Group represents an exciting new chapter for TAWAL and the wider stc Group. The agreement is a significant milestone in our ambitious growth strategy and the expansion of our international footprint. We are already leading the transformation of Saudi Arabia’s digital capabilities and this transaction reinforces our commitment to investing in best-in-class technology and infrastructure to lead the way in enabling the world to connect.”
Nikos Stathopoulos, Chairman, Europe at BC Partners, and Chairman of United Group, said:
“The sale of United Group’s TowerCo business represents a key milestone in United Group’s journey of growth and expansion. It allows United Group to focus on continued investment in its telecom and media services and Infrastructure.”
United Group is majority owned by BC Partners, a leading international investment firm.
Goldman Sachs acted as financial adviser to United Group on the transaction. United Group will report its FY results on Monday. The terms of the transaction include long term Master Services Agreements and a Service Level Agreement for our continued use of the telecommunications towers infrastructure following completion of the transaction. The closing of the transaction is subject to customary conditions and is expected to take place during the second half of 2023.