Sunrise is selling its Swiss Towers infrastructure business to a consortium led by Cellnex Telecom as it looks to reduce its debt.

The operator has agreed a CHF500 million (€458 million) deal for the subsidiary, which owns 2,239 telecom towers in Switzerland.

Cellnex has teamed up with Swiss Life Asset Managers and Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners (DTCP) to acquire the business.

Cellnex has a 54 percent stake in the consortium, Swiss Life has 28 percent and DTCP 18 percent.

Sunrise created Swiss Towers, which contains the company’s unused network infrastructure, in March as it looked for a sale.

The operator has retained ownership of its “active” mobile network infrastructure.

It will continue to use the assets it has sold to the consortium following the sale, which is slated to close in June or July should it get regulatory clearance.

Both parties have committed to a new “build-to-suit” project featuring new macro sites and small cells.

Sunrise CEO Olaf Swantee said: “We are absolutely proud to be the first Swiss operator to enter such a partnership.

“It enables us to continue our network and innovation leadership.

“The new partnership will enable us to focus even stronger on the key differentiating elements of our active network infrastructure to deliver the defect-free network and set new industry standards in the Swiss mobile market.”

The operator saw EBITDA fall 2.8 percent to CHF599 million last year on sales that declined four percent to CHF1.9 billion.

Net debt stood at CHF1.6 billion at the end of March this year.

Cellnex CEO Tobias Martinez said: “Like all other major European countries, the industry in Switzerland is facing the challenge of meeting the significant growth in mobile data consumption and transmission by incorporating new technologies based on small cells and distributed antenna systems (DAS), which in the medium term will mean densifying networks by rolling out new equipment in parallel with reducing the overlap of some of the already rolled out networks, essentially 2G and 3G.

“This market development provides a clear opportunity for Cellnex Telecom.”

Cellnex acquired 3,000 sites from Bouygues Telecom in February, as part of a 20-year agreement it signed last year.Cellnex acquired 3,000 sites from Bouygues Telecom in February, as part of a 20-year agreement it signed last year.

The company also owns sites in Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and the UK.

DTCP Co-Founder and CEO Vicente Vento hailed “a flagship deal” for this company.

He said: “We are confident that with the strong underlying growth in data traffic and next generation connectivity services, the expertise of Cellnex as an industrial operator and the stable macroeconomic environment, this transaction will lead to a good outcome for our investors.”

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