Actis-led consortium acquires Balkan telecom tower portfolio from Telekom Srbija

Actis-led consortium acquires Balkan telecom tower portfolio from Telekom Srbija
/ bne IntelliNews
By bne IntelliNews January 23, 2024

A consortium led by infrastructure investment firm Actis has acquired the macro tower portfolio of Telekom Srbija, a prominent telecommunications operator in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region. The portfolio, spanning Serbia, Bosnia & Herzegovina and Montenegro, comprises approximately 1,800 macro towers strategically positioned for further commercialisation and expansion, the press release said.

This is Actis' eighth investment in the digital infrastructure space, with a commitment of well over $1bn in the sector. The acquisition of Telekom Srbija's tower portfolio is envisioned to be the cornerstone platform investment for Actis in the CEE region.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was part of the consortium of international investors led by Actis, which also included the International Finance Corporation (IFC). 

As part of the transaction, a new independent tower company has been established, fully under the control of Actis. The tower company has entered into a long-term master services agreement (MSA) with Telekom Srbija, as the anchor tenant and a partner for the tower company's future growth. 

The MSA outlines build-to-suit (BTS) commitments, facilitating the expansion of the platform's reach and accommodating the rollout of new telecoms technologies in the region.

David Morley, partner and vice chairman at Actis, commented that the firm sees significant potential for future growth in the digital infrastructure sector. 

The towers market in the CEE and Western Balkans region is poised for significant expansion in the coming years, said Actis, commenting on the investment. This growth is fueled by escalating consumer demand for mobile data, the introduction of cutting-edge technologies like 5G and 6G, and evolving mobile capacity and coverage requirements. 

“We are very proud to lead this groundbreaking investment, marking the first transaction of its type in the Balkans. This investment strengthens Actis’ strategic decision to expand its strategy into the CEE region following on investments made in 2022 in the energy sector in Romania and Bulgaria,” said Jaroslava Korpanec, partner and head of Central and Eastern Europe at Actis. 

“This investment provides the capacity to meet increasing demand for reliable mobile services in the three countries, and enables the transfer of state-owned telecoms infrastructure into private ownership,” said Holger Muent, EBRD head of telecommunications, media and technology. 

“Supported by strong international investors, the independent mobile tower company will be well-placed to boost innovation and market competition. Furthermore, the transaction will lead to increased efficiency and sustainability of the company’s telecoms infrastructure, as well as facilitate the implementation of best corporate governance standards.”

Actis received advisory support from BNP Paribas as the sole financial advisor, and legal counsel from White & Case, CMS and Simpson Thacher & Bartlett.