Vodafone Group currently operates 110,000 towers across its European footprint
U.K.-based telecom group Vodafone is considering selling towers in order to help reduce the company’s debt, which currently totals 31 billion euros ($36.2 billion), its incoming CEO Nick Read said.
At a Goldman Sachs investor conference, Read said that the move will allow the firm to maintain its ability to pay dividends after acquiring the assets of Liberty Global, the Financial Times reports.
Nick Read, who takes over from Vittorio Colao as Vodafone CEO next month, said the sale of the company’s tower assets was dependent on striking the right deal.
Vodafone currently owns 110,000 towers across Europe, 55,000 of which are directly controlled by the operator and are valued at around €12 billion, the Financial Times reported, citing Barclays Bank estimates.
“Towers are also a consideration,” Read said, adding that Vodafone would be pursuing the strategy although there was “nothing today” to announce.
At the conference, Read also said Vodafone would shed 1,700 jobs across shared service centers in Egypt, India and Romania this financial year, representing nearly 8% of the workforce in that business.
Other changes include floating Vodafone’s New Zealand business, which is likely to happen next year. The company recently completed major mergers in India and Australia.
In May, Vodafone reached a deal to purchase Liberty Global’s operations in Germany and Eastern Europe for €18.4 billion. If the transaction gains approval, it will make Vodafone the largest operator in Europe by turnover and market capitalization, leapfrogging Germany’s Deutsche Telekom.
The deal, which also includes Liberty Global’s operations in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania, will establish Vodafone as the leading provider of high speed broadband and cable services in the region, with 54 million customers, and a network that reaches 110 million homes and businesses.
The transaction, subject to regulatory approval from the European Commission, is expected to be completed by mid-2019.
Vodafone operates in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Asia Pacific region; it provides voice, data and fixed telecommunications services. Liberty Global, based in Denver, Colorado, operates in 12 European countries with brands Virgin Media, Unitymedia, Telenet and UPC.
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