InfraRed and Northleaf win Vodafone NZ tower auction

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InfraRed Capital Partners and Northleaf Capital Partners have signed a NZ$1.7 billion deal to invest in telecommunications towers owned by Vodafone NZ.

Two infrastructure managers have shared the sixth and probably last portfolio of telecommunications towers for sale in the last 13 months. Provided

The two companies will each buy a 40% stake in Vodafone NZ’s new TowerCo, while existing Vodafone NZ investor Infratil would take the remaining 20%. Brookfield would sell its entire stake.

The consortium, advised by RBC Capital Markets, won an auction organized by UBS and Barrenjoey to sign the deal this weekend. Other bidders included John Laing Infrastructure.

The price paid represented 33.8 times the expected EBITDA for the 2023 financial year, according to Infratil. There were 1,484 towers in the portfolio and a 20-year service agreement with Brookfield and Vodafone NZ-owned Infratil.

Winding up TowerCo would fuel big paydays for the two Vodafone NZ investors; Infratil said it had returned 26.7%, on an IRR basis, from Vodafone NZ at the end of the liquidation. [Infratil and Brookfield would continue to each own nearly 50 per cent of Vodafone NZ’s operating business].

It is the sixth and likely last telecom tower deal in Australia and New Zealand in the last 13 months as telecom owners capitalize on private interests in their infrastructure.

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