The Aboitiz group interested in the recovery of the old cell sites of the PLDT

The Aboitiz group wants to bid on the telecom towers that PLDT Inc. will auction next week as part of the latter’s program to trim non-core cell sites and focus on building new common towers in optimal locations. .

The PLDT has started the process of selling some of its old towers under a sale-leaseback agreement and has so far attracted the interest of 21 parties, PLDT chairman Alfredo Panlilio said on Thursday, during a press briefing.

In addition to the sale of existing towers, PLDT President Manuel V. Pangilinan added that under a joint three-year tower construction program, approximately 4,500 to 5,000 new towers would be built with new partners. .

“In fact, we are evaluating the opportunity now,” Cosette Canilao, president and CEO of Aboitiz InfraCapital, said of the sale in a separate press briefing Thursday evening.

“Unity is actually part of the process,” she said, when asked about the PLDT auction.

Canilao was referring to the joint venture created by Aboitiz InfraCapital with the global leader in private markets, Partners Group, to establish a telecommunications infrastructure platform called Unity Digital Infrastructure, Inc. (Unity).

Through Unity, Aboitiz InfraCapital and Partners Group plans to build and operate telecommunications towers and supporting infrastructure across the country.

The interest of the Aboitiz group in PLDT towers is in line with its goal of supporting the government’s vision of improving the country’s internet connectivity in local communities by increasing the number of cell sites of mobile network operators.

In mid-2020, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) issued guidelines on the infrastructure for shared passive telecommunications towers. This is to encourage the growth and development of independent tower companies as a pioneer sector for the development of a robust ICT environment.

By November 8 or 9, PLDT expects to receive the first round of non-binding proposals from interested parties to resume some of its tricks, according to Panlilio.

“So we’re seeing a lot of interest and we just have to go through next week and see that level of interest,” he said.

The Swiss investment bank UBS is helping PLDT in this initiative.

Pangilinan added that indicative prices for existing towers “looked pretty good”. He said the accounting gains on the sale and cash flow would be significant for PLDT.

Meanwhile, Panlilio said that PLDT’s board also approved the hiring of three partners to build new joint towers that could also be used by other telecom operators.

These entities have been commissioned to build 1,600 new towers over the coming year, Panlilio said.

Over the next three years, these three entities would build 4,500 to 5,000 joint towers in partnership with the PLDT, added Pangilinan.

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