Spanish towers giant Cellnex is dropping €1.6 billion to buy Polkomtel Infrastruktura and its 7,000 Polish towers and sites.
Cellnex CEO Tobias Martinez likes to narrate his shopping compulsion with nice, long quotes. “First, it allows Cellnex to rapidly consolidate and reinforce its position in Poland following the recent announcement to acquire towers and sites from Play,” he said.
“Secondly, it exemplifies our commitment to evolving the traditional tower operator model towards an integrated telecommunications infrastructure management model, combining the operation of passive elements (towers) and active elements such as transmission equipment, radio links and fibre-to-the-tower.
“This is nothing new for Cellnex. in several markets, e.g. France, we have already signed agreements to roll out and operate the fibre backbone and backhaul; to manage data centres (voice and data traffic concentrators) that will be part of the 5G edge computing ecosystem; or to operate distributed antenna systems (DAS) in sports and commercial venues, hospitals, transport networks, etc. Our expansion into active infrastructure is undoubtedly a qualitative leap and heralds a new reality for the company that broadens the development and growth options for Cellnex in Europe within telecommunications infrastructures.”
This move into active intrastructure does seem significant. It’s one thing to just charge rent for use of a metal tower, quite another to manage all the high tech telecoms kit residing on it. Perhaps the reason for the move is that Martinez is running out of towers to buy and couldn’t face the prospect of giving his shopping addiction a rest for a bit.
As if to confirm that suspicion the announcement of this acquisition concluded by reminding everyone that Cellnex still has loads of cash to spend thanks in part to the extra borrowing it announced at the start of this month. Expect any European tower not surrounded by barbed wire and snarling dogs to be subjected to Martinez’s avaricious gaze before long.