Wind Tre carves out network assets, sells majority stake to EQT


Swedish infrastructure fund EQT will own 60% of the newly formed company, with the remaining 40% held by Wind Tre’s owner, CK Hutchison

Today, private equity firm EQT have announced a new deal that will see them acquire a 60% stake in a newly formed company, set to own and operate Italian operator Wind Tre’s fixed and mobile network assets.

The new company will take ownership of all Wind Tre’s radio antennas, base stations, transport network, and associated contracts, offering the network to customers on an independent wholesale basis. Wind Tre will retain access to the infrastucture as an anchor tenant of the new business.

Estimates suggest the deal’s enterprise value is around €3.4 billion.

According to Wind Tre, this deal will allow them to focus on serving their retail customers, as well as generating new revenue streams beyond their core fixed and mobile offerngs.

“This is part of our Group’s ‘asset light strategy’ for us to recoup the cost of our network investment. At the same time, Wind Tre will benefit from having a partner to own and maintain a state-of-the-art network which will benefit our customers while having certainty on its cost base for OPEX and CAPEX,” explained Canning Fok, Group Co-Managing Director of CK Hutchison. “Our partner EQT is a renowned investor in this infrastructure investment space, and we look forward to working with them for a very long time.”

As always, this deal will be subject to regulatory approvals, with the company’s hoping to close around the end of the year.

Italy has been a highly competitive telecoms market for many years now, with the introduction of Iliad Italia to the market in 2018 causing an aggressive price war in the mobile sector that still rumbled on to this day. Since then, the operators have been struggling to produce sustainable growth, particularly given their expensive network rollouts and the punishing global economic landscape.

Indeed, Italy’s largest operator TIM has been attempting to similarly monetise its network assets for many months now, with new CEO Pietro Labriola penning a plan to spin off the company’s infrastructure unit into a separate business.

Currently, TIM has received offers from both KKR and a partnership of the CDP Equity and Macquarie for a stake in this spun-off NetCo, with TIM announcing a formal competitive bidding process back in March.

The bidders have until June 9 to submit improved offers.

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