© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Telecoms antennas of Spanish telecoms infrastructure company Cellnex are seen in Madrid, Spain, April 27, 2022. REUTERS/Susana Vera

By Emma-Victoria Farr and Emma Pinedo

LONDON/MADRID (Reuters) -Spain’s Cellnex said on Wednesday it is no longer looking to buy a stake in Deutsche Telekom (OTC:)’s towers business, paving the way for a competing bid from a consortium led by to secure the estimated 18 billion euro deal.

The sale process, which kicked off in March, has seen strategic bidders and infrastructure funds compete for a stake in the masts unit known as Deutsche Funkturm GmbH (DFMG).

KKR’s rival offer, backed by U.S. investment firms Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) and Stonepeak, allows Deutsche Telekom to retain control of its towers business, while giving KKR some corporate governance control.

The transaction would rank as Germany’s biggest deal this year and Europe’s second largest, after the Benetton family and U.S. fund Blackstone (NYSE:)’s 58 billion euro takeover of Italian infrastructure group Atlantia.

Deutsche Telekom declined to comment.

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